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Neuroanatomical targets of reboxetine and bupropion as revealed by pharmacological magnetic resonance imaging

Lookup NU author(s): Sakthivel SEKAR, Professor Andrew BlamireORCiD, Dr Mohammed Shoaib


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Rationale One of the key targets of psychopharmacology research is to determine the potential sites of action of antidepressants in order to characterise their underlying mechanism of action. Objective Using blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) pharmacological magnetic resonance imaging (phMRI), the neuroanatomical target-sites of reboxetine (a selective noradrenaline reuptake inhibitor) and bupropion (an antidepressant with stimulatory effects on dopamine and potentially on noradrenaline) were mapped. Methods Separate groups of rats were challenged acutely or chronically (daily injections for 14 days) with saline or psychoactive compounds and scanned. Subsequent statistical parametric mapping of the main effects of the drug was performed by identifying changes in the BOLD signal. Results Acute reboxetine challenge at a low dose (10 mg/kg i.p.) produced positive BOLD responses specifically in the hypothalamus, whereas a larger dose (30 mg/kg i.p.) produced activations in the hypothalamus, anterior hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. Chronic reboxetine (30 mg/kg i.p.) treatment induced increased BOLD responses in the posterior hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, while no significant contrast changes were observed in the hypothalamus and a significant decrease was apparent in the amygdala. In contrast, acute bupropion (15 and 30 mg/kg i.p.) challenge in both doses produced no significant contrast changes in the regions of interest. However, chronic bupropion treatment (30 mg/kg i.p.) produced robust increases in BOLD responses in the hippocampus, amygdala and prefrontal cortex. Conclusion In summary, this study demonstrates that reboxetine and bupropion evoke a significant increase in BOLD functional activity in specific regions of the brain, including the hypothalamus, hippocampus, prefrontal cortex and amygdala. Furthermore, the study illustrates the potential value of pharmacological MRI in rodents to delineate pharmacologically induced changes in regional brain function.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Sekar S, Van Audekerke J, Vanhoutte G, Lowe AS, Blamire AM, Van der Linden A, Steckler T, Shoaib M, Verhoye M

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Psychopharmacology

Year: 2011

Volume: 217

Issue: 4

Pages: 549-557

Print publication date: 06/05/2011

ISSN (print): 0033-3158

ISSN (electronic): 1432-2072

Publisher: Springer


DOI: 10.1007/s00213-011-2311-7


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