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J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2004 Nov;311(2):640-4. Epub 2004 Jul 13.

Bupropion (Zyban, Wellbutrin) inhibits nicotine-induced viral reactivation in herpes simplex virus type 1 latent rabbits.

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Louisiana State University Eye Center, 2020 Gravier Street, Suite B, New Orleans, LA 70112-2234, USA.


We reported that nicotine applied via a transdermal patch (21 mg/day) induced viral reactivation and ocular shedding in herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) latent rabbits. One possible mechanism of action involves the release of catecholamines and other similar agents, triggering HSV reactivation. Bupropion (Zyban, Wellbutrin), a non-nicotine aid to smoking cessation, inhibits neuronal uptake of norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine. To determine whether bupropion inhibits HSV reactivation, rabbits latent with HSV-1 were grouped (at least 10 rabbits/group) and treated as follows: nicotine patch (transdermal delivery) and bupropion [Zyban sustained-release tablets (150 mg) twice a day (oral)], nicotine patch only, Zyban tablets only [twice a day (oral)], nicotine patch with oral placebo [twice a day (oral)], or no drug treatment. Eyes were swabbed for 22 consecutive days. The appearance of HSV-1 in the tear film was significantly less frequent in the bupropion-treated rabbits, in terms of positive rabbits/total rabbits, positive eyes/total eyes, and positive swabs/total swabs. Nicotine-treated rabbits had 78/440 (17.7%) positive/total swabs, and nicotine/placebo-treated rabbits had 149/792 (18.8%) positive/total swabs, whereas bupropion-treated rabbits had 23/440 (5.2%), and nicotine/bupropion-treated rabbits had 47/792 (5.9%) positive/total swabs. Thus, bupropion significantly reduces nicotine-induced HSV reactivation in latent rabbits.

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