Ambien May Help Stroke Recovery

First Posted: Dec 20, 2015 09:33 PM EST

Ambien, sold as zolpidem, helped to reduce stroke risk in mice, according to a new study. 

Researchers at Stanford University in California found that mice returned to pre-stroke abilities after being given the drug. 

"Before this study, the thinking in the field was that GABA signaling after a stroke was detrimental," said Dr. Gary Steinberg, professor and chair of neurosurgery at Stanford University, in a news release. "But now we know that if it's the right kind of GABA signaling, it's beneficial. And we've identified an FDA-approved drug that decisively promotes the beneficial signaling."

During the study, researchers specifically looked at the effects of common synaptic GABA signaling following stroke. They induced strokes in mice that resulted in severe sensory damage or impaired movement. Then, they gave them either a sub-sedative dose of Ambien or a solution that did not contain a drug.

Findings showed that mice treated with Ambien were better at completing certain tasks during the study than those that did not receive the drug.

However, researchers caution regarding the initial study results as mice typically recover most of their functions following a stroke, which is not always the case in humans. However, the study results do suggest that GABA levels can be beneficial for stroke patients.

The study is published in the journal Brain.

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