Sex differences in the effect of bupropion and naltrexone combination on alcohol drinking in mice (Abstract)

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Sex differences in the effect of bupropion and naltrexone combination on alcohol drinking in mice

Pharmacol Biochem Behav
June 2019

A fixed dose combination of bupropion (BPP) and naltrexone (NTX), Contrave®, is an FDA approved pharmacotherapy for the treatment of obesity. A recent study found that combining BPP with low-dose NTX reduced alcohol drinking in alcohol-preferring male rats. To explore potential pharmacological effects of the BPP + NTX combination on alcohol drinking, both male and female C57Bl/6J mice were tested on one-week drinking-in-the dark (DID) and three-week intermittent access (IA) models. Neuronal proopiomelanocortin (POMC) enhancer knockout (nPE-/-) mice with hypothalamic-specific deficiency of POMC, and its bioactive peptides melanocyte stimulating hormone and beta-endorphin, were used as a genetic control for the effects of the BPP + NTX. A single administration of BPP + NTX (10 mg/kg + 1 mg/kg) decreased alcohol intake after DID in C57Bl/6J males, but not females. Also in C57Bl/6J males, BPP + NTX reduced intake of the caloric reinforcer sucrose, but not the non-caloric reinforcer saccharin. In contrast, BPP + NTX had no effect on alcohol DID in nPE-/- males. Pretreatment with the selective melanocortin 4 receptor (MC4R) antagonist HS014 reversed the anti-dipsogenic effect of BPP + NTX on alcohol DID in C57Bl/6J males. In the 3-week chronic IA model, single or repeated administrations for four days of BPP + NTX reduced alcohol intake and preference in C57Bl/6J males only. The behavioral measures observed in C57Bl/6J mice provide clear evidence that BPP + NTX profoundly reduced alcohol drinking in males, but the doses tested were not effective in females. Furthermore, our results suggest a hypothalamic POMC/MC4R-dependent mechanism for the observed BPP + NTX effects on alcohol drinking in male mice.

Keywords: Alcohol; Bupropion; MC4R; Naltrexone; Sex; nPE knockout.