Bupropion-induced inhibition of α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors expressed in heterologous cells and neurons from dorsal raphe nucleus and hippocampus

Elizabeth Vázquez-Gómez, Hugo R. Arias, Dominik Feuerbach, Marcela Miranda-Morales, Stefan Mihailescu, Katarzyna M. Targowska-Duda, Krzysztof Jozwiak, Jesús García-Colunga

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The pharmacological activity of bupropion was compared between α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors expressed in heterologous cells and hippocampal and dorsal raphe nucleus neurons. The inhibitory activity of bupropion was studied on GH3-α7 cells by Ca2+influx, as well as on neurons from the dorsal raphe nucleus and interneurons from the stratum radiatum of the hippocampal CA1 region by using a whole-cell voltage-clamp technique. In addition, the interaction of bupropion with the α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor was determined by [3H]imipramine competition binding assays and molecular docking. The fast component of acetylcholine- and choline-induced currents from both brain regions was inhibited by methyllycaconitine, indicating the participation of α7-containing nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. Choline-induced currents in hippocampal interneurons were partially inhibited by 10 μM bupropion, a concentration that could be reached in the brain during clinical administration. Additionally, both agonist-induced currents were reversibly inhibited by bupropion at concentrations that coincide with its inhibitory potency (IC50=54 μM) and binding affinity (Ki=63 μM) for α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors from heterologous cells. The [3H]imipramine competition binding and molecular docking results support a luminal location for the bupropion binding site(s). This study may help to understand the mechanisms of actions of bupropion at neuronal and molecular levels related with its therapeutic actions on depression and for smoking cessation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-111
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Pharmacology
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes



  • Antidepressants
  • Bupropion
  • Dorsal raphe nucleus
  • Hippocampus
  • Molecular docking
  • α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor

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