Sex differences and the role of dopamine receptors in the reward-enhancing effects of nicotine and bupropion

Scott T. Barrett, Trevor N. Geary, Amy N. Steiner, Rick A. Bevins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Scopus citations


Rationale: Nicotine and bupropion have been demonstrated to enhance the value of other reinforcers, and this may partially account for nicotine reward and dependence. Evidence suggests that the sexes differ in their sensitivity to the primary and secondary reinforcing effects of nicotine and nicotine-associated stimuli. Whether the sexes also differ in sensitivity to the reward-enhancing effects of nicotine (and bupropion) is yet unclear. Objectives: The present study evaluated potential sex differences in the enhancement effects of nicotine and bupropion using a reinforcer demand approach. Furthermore, we sought to investigate the role that D1- and D2-type dopamine receptors play in the reward-enhancing effects of nicotine and bupropion. Methods: Demand for sensory reinforcement was assessed in male and female rats responding on a progression of fixed ratio schedules. The effects of nicotine and 10 or 20 mg/kg bupropion on reinforcer demand were assessed within subjects. Subsequently, the effects of SCH-23390 and eticlopride were assessed on the enhancing effects of nicotine and bupropion on progressive ratio responding. Results: Nicotine and bupropion enhanced demand metrics of reinforcement value in both sexes. Females were more sensitive to the enhancement effects of bupropion assessed by reinforcer demand and progressive ratio performance. D2-like dopamine receptor antagonism by eticlopride attenuated the enhancement effects of bupropion, but not of nicotine. Conclusions: Nicotine and bupropion both enhance reinforcement value in both sexes, though females may be more sensitive to the reward-enhancing effects of bupropion. D2- and possibly D1-type receptors appear to be involved in the reward-enhancing effects of bupropion, but not necessarily nicotine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)187-198
Number of pages12
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017



  • Behavioral economics
  • Bupropion
  • Dopamine
  • Nicotine
  • Rats
  • Reinforcer demand
  • Reward enhancement
  • Sex differences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology

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