Bupropion increases activation in nucleus accumbens during anticipation of monetary reward
Bupropion is used for major depressive disorder, smoking cessation aid, and obesity. It blocks reuptake of dopamine and noradrenaline and antagonizes nicotinic acetylcholine receptor. Animal studies showed that bupropion enhanced rewarding effects. In addition, bupropion has the potential to treat patients with reward processing dysfunction. However, neural substrates underlying the bupropion effects on reward function in human subjects are not fully understood.
We investigated single-dose administration of bupropion on neural response of reward anticipation in healthy subjects using a monetary incentive delay (MID) task by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), especially focusing on nucleus accumbens (NAc) activity to non-drug reward stimuli under bupropion treatment.
We used a randomized placebo-controlled within-subject crossover design. Fifteen healthy adults participated in two series of an fMRI study, taking either placebo or bupropion. The participants performed the MID task during the fMRI scanning. The effects of bupropion on behavioral performance and blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) signal in NAc during anticipation of monetary gain were analyzed.
We found that bupropion significantly increased BOLD responses in NAc during monetary reward anticipation. The increased BOLD responses in NAc were observed with both low and high reward incentive cues. There was no significant difference between placebo and bupropion in behavioral performance.
Our findings provide support for the notion that bupropion enhances non-drug rewarding effects, suggesting a possible mechanism underlying therapeutic effects for patients with motivational deficit.
KeywordsBupropion Reward fMRI Nucleus accumbens Monetary incentive delay task
We are thankful to the Clinical Imaging Center for Healthcare, Nippon Medical School, for their support. In particular, we thank Koji Nagaya, Megumi Hongo, Koji Kanaya, Masaya Suda, and Minoru Sakurai for their technical assistance with the MRI examinations and Michiyo Tamura for research assistance. We also thank Arndt Gerz for his English editing of the manuscript and Brian Knutson and Hidehiko Takahashi for their advice on the MID task.
This study was supported by a Grant-in-Aid for Encouragement of Young Scientists (B) (24791237 to Y.I.) and a grant (S0801035 to H.S.) from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan.
Compliance with ethical standards
All participants gave written informed consent, and the study was approved by the ethics committee of Nippon Medical School (approval number 223035).
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
The authors are entirely responsible for the scientific content of this paper.
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