Comparison of the behavioral effects of bupropion and psychostimulants

Eur J Pharmacol. 2013 Oct 15;718(1-3):370-5. doi: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2013.07.046. Epub 2013 Aug 28.


Psychostimulant abuse has been a serious social problem worldwide for a long time. Bupropion, which is used as an antidepressant and to aid smoking cessation in the US, is considered to have psychostimulant-like activity. Although activation of the dopaminergic system induces several behavioral effects and bupropion can activate the dopaminergic system, the abuse potential and other behavioral effects of bupropion have not been fully investigated. Therefore, in this study we compared the behavioral effects of bupropion to those of psychostimulants in mice. Both methamphetamine and bupropion induced sensitization to locomotor activity, and cross-sensitized each other. Methamphetamine and bupropion also induced robust rewarding effects as measured by the conditioned place preference paradigm, although the conditioned reward with bupropion extinguished faster than that with methamphetamine. Furthermore, unlike psychostimulants, bupropion did not disrupt prepulse inhibition, even in bupropion-sensitized mice. These findings constitute evidence that bupropion and methamphetamine have similar pharmacological profiles, particularly with regard to dopamine-related behaviors. However, bupropion has lower abuse potential and side effects than methamphetamine.

Keywords: Bupropion; Dopamine; Methamphetamine; Rewarding effect; Sensitization.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects*
  • Bupropion / pharmacology*
  • Cocaine / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Methamphetamine / pharmacology*
  • Mice
  • Motor Activity / drug effects
  • Psychotropic Drugs / pharmacology*
  • Reward
  • Substance-Related Disorders / physiopathology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology


  • Psychotropic Drugs
  • Bupropion
  • Methamphetamine
  • Cocaine