Catecholamine reuptake inhibition causes weight loss by increasing locomotor activity and thermogenesis

Sonja K. Billes, Michael A. Cowley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


Bupropion (BUP) is a dopamine (DA) and norepinephrine (NE) reuptake inhibitor that causes mild weight loss in obese adults. Subchronic (7 day) coadministration of selective DA and NE reuptake inhibitors also causes weight loss in mice. Because weight loss was not associated with decreased caloric intake, subchronic BUP might cause weight loss through increased energy expenditure. Acute studies demonstrate that BUP or DA+NE reuptake inhibitors cause transient hypophagia and increased locomotion; though the effects on temperature are inconsistent. Because subchronic DA+NE reuptake inhibition does not affect appetite, there is clearly a difference between the acute and subchronic effects of DA+NE reuptake inhibitors; however the effects of chronic (or subchronic) BUP on energy balance have never been directly studied in an animal model. Therefore, the acute and subchronic effects of BUP or selective DA and NE reuptake inhibitors on food intake, body weight, locomotor activity, and interscapular temperature were determined in mice. Generally, selective inhibition of DA reuptake (by GBR12783) increased activity while selective inhibition of NE reuptake (by nisoxetine, NIS) decreased activity and temperature. BUP increased activity and temperature but subchronic BUP did not significantly reduce body weight due to a compensatory increase in food intake. Subchronic DA+NE reuptake inhibitor coadministration mimicked the effect of BUP on activity and temperature, but caused weight loss because daily food intake was not increased. The results of this study suggest that the mild weight loss effect of BUP in humans may be due to increased locomotion or heat production. More importantly, inhibition of DA+NE reuptake (with GBR+NIS) increased energy expenditure without a compensatory increase in food intake, supporting a role for novel combination catecholamine reuptake inhibitors in pharmacotherapy for obesity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1287-1297
Number of pages11
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2008


  • Bupropion
  • Dopamine
  • Locomotor activity
  • Norepinephrine
  • Obesity
  • Temperature

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