A substantial barrier to the treatment of Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) is the elevated relapse rates in affected patients, and a significant contributor to these events of relapse is exposure to cues and contexts that are intensely associated with prior drug abuse. The neurotransmitter dopamine plays a key role in reward-related behaviors, and previous studies have illustrated that dopamine hypofunction in periods of abstinence serves to prompt drug craving and seeking. We hypothesized that restoration of dopaminergic signaling could attenuate drug-seeking behaviors. Therefore, we investigated whether use of an FDA-approved drug, bupropion, an inhibitor of the dopamine transporter (DAT), or a dopamine uptake inhibitor with high affinity for DAT, JHW 007, was able to decrease preference for a drug-paired context. In these experiments, mice underwent 5 days of non-contingent morphine (10 mg/kg) exposure in a conditioned place preference (CPP) paradigm. We found that systemic injection of bupropion (20 mg/kg, i. p.) or intracranial injection of JHW 007 into the nucleus accumbens shell did not prevent the expression of morphine CPP. We then investigated whether chronic bupropion treatment (via implanted osmotic pumps) would influence morphine CPP. We observed that chronic bupropion treatment for 21 days following morphine conditioning did not attenuate the prolonged preference for morphine-paired contexts. Overall, with our dose and paradigm, neither acute nor chronic bupropion diminishes morphine CPP. Continued studies should address FDA-approved medications and their potential for recovery in OUD patients.
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