Background: Depression and related disorders are characterized by deficits in behavioral activation, exertion of effort, and other psychomotor/motivational dysfunctions. Depressed patients show alterations in effort-related decision making and a bias towards selection of low effort activities. It has been suggested that animal tests of effort-related decision making could be useful as models of motivational dysfunctions seen in psychopathology. Methods: Because clinical studies have suggested that inhibition of catecholamine uptake may be a useful strategy for treatment of effort-related motivational symptoms, the present research assessed the ability of bupropion to increase work output in rats responding on a test of effort-related decision-making (ie, a progressive ratio/chow feeding choice task). With this task, rats can choose between working for a preferred food (high-carbohydrate pellets) by lever pressing on a progressive ratio schedule vs obtaining a less preferred laboratory chow that is freely available in the chamber. Results: Bupropion (10.0-40.0 mg/kg intraperitoneal) significantly increased all measures of progressive ratio lever pressing, but decreased chow intake. These effects were greatest in animals with low baseline levels of work output on the progressive ratio schedule. Because accumbens dopamine is implicated in effort-related processes, the effects of bupropion on markers of accumbens dopamine transmission were examined. Bupropion elevated extracellular dopamine levels in accumbens core as measured by microdialysis and increased phosphorylated dopamine and cyclic-AMP related phosphoprotein 32 kDaltons (pDARPP-32) immunoreactivity in a manner consistent with D1 and D2 receptor stimulation. Conclusion: The ability of bupropion to increase exertion of effort in instrumental behavior may have implications for the pathophysiology and treatment of effort-related motivational symptoms in humans.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Pharmacology (medical)