The mechanism of action of bupropion is unknown, as is the case with other antidepressants. However, it is presumed that this action is mediated by noradrenergic and/or dopaminergic mechanisms. Bupropion is a relatively weak inhibitor of the neuronal uptake of norepinephrine and dopamine, and does not inhibit monoamine oxidase or the reuptake of serotonin.
Bupropion is a racemic mixture. The pharmacologic activity and pharmacokinetics of the individual enantiomers have not been studied.
Following chronic dosing, the mean steady-state plasma concentration of bupropion was reached within 8 days. The mean elimination half-life (±SD) of bupropion 21 (±9) hours.
In a study comparing 14-day dosing with bupropion hydrochloride extended-release tablets (XL), 300 mg once-daily to the immediate-release formulation of bupropion at 100 mg 3 times daily, equivalence was demonstrated for peak plasma concentration and area under the curve for bupropion and the three metabolites (hydroxybupropion, threohydrobupropion, and erythrohydrobupropion). Additionally, in a study comparing 14-day dosing with bupropion hydrochloride extended-release tablets (XL) 300 mg once daily to the sustained-release formulation of bupropion at 150 mg 2 times daily, equivalence was demonstrated for peak plasma concentration and area under the curve for bupropion and the three metabolites.
Following single oral administration of bupropion hydrochloride extended-release tablets (XL) to healthy volunteers, the median time to peak plasma concentrations for bupropion was approximately 5 hours. The presence of food did not affect the peak concentration or area under the curve of bupropion.
In vitro tests show that bupropion is 84% bound to human plasma proteins at concentrations up to 200 mcg/mL. The extent of protein binding of the hydroxybupropion metabolite is similar to that for bupropion, whereas the extent of protein binding of the threohydrobupropion metabolite is about half that of bupropion.
Bupropion is extensively metabolized in humans. Three metabolites are active: hydroxybupropion, which is formed via hydroxylation of the tert-butyl group of bupropion, and the amino-alcohol isomers threohydrobupropion and erythrohydrobupropion, which are formed via reduction of the carbonyl group. In vitro findings suggest that CYP2B6 is the principal isoenzyme involved in the formation of hydroxybupropion, while cytochrome P450 enzymes are not involved in the formation of threohydrobupropion. Oxidation of the bupropion side chain results in the formation of a glycine conjugate of meta-chlorobenzoic acid, which is then excreted as the major urinary metabolite. The potency and toxicity of the metabolites relative to bupropion have not been fully characterized. However, it has been demonstrated in an antidepressant screening test in mice that hydroxybupropion is one half as potent as bupropion, while threohydrobupropion and erythrohydrobupropion are 5-fold less potent than bupropion. This may be of clinical importance, because the plasma concentrations of the metabolites are as high or higher than those of bupropion.
At steady state peak plasma concentration of hydroxybupropion occurred approximately 7 hours after administration of bupropion hydrochloride extended-release tablets (XL), and it was approximately 7 times the peak level of the parent drug. The elimination half-life of hydroxybupropion is approximately 20 (±5) hours, and its AUC at steady state is about 13 times that of bupropion. The times to peak concentrations for the erythrohydrobupropion and threohydrobupropion metabolites are similar to that of hydroxybupropion. However, the elimination half-lives of erythrohydrobupropion and threohydrobupropion are longer, approximately 33 (±10) and 37 (±13) hours, respectively, and steadystate AUCs were 1.4 and 7 times that of bupropion, respectively.
Bupropion and its metabolites exhibit linear kinetics following chronic administration of 300 to 450 mg/day.
Following oral administration of 200 mg of 14 C-bupropion in humans, 87% and 10% of the radioactive dose were recovered in the urine and feces, respectively. Only 0.5% of the oral dose was excreted as unchanged bupropion.
Factors or conditions altering metabolic capacity (e.g., liver disease, congestive heart failure [CHF], age, concomitant medications, etc.) or elimination may be expected to influence the degree and extent of accumulation of the active metabolites of bupropion. The elimination of the major metabolites of bupropion may be affected by reduced renal or hepatic function, because they are moderately polar compounds and are likely to undergo further metabolism or conjugation in the liver prior to urinary excretion.
There is limited information on the pharmacokinetics of bupropion in patients with renal impairment. An inter-trial comparison between normal subjects and subjects with end-stage renal failure demonstrated that the parent drug C max and AUC values were comparable in the 2 groups, whereas the hydroxybupropion and threohydrobupropion metabolites had a 2.3- and 2.8-fold increase, respectively, in AUC for subjects with end-stage renal failure. A second study, comparing normal subjects and subjects with moderate-to-severe renal impairment (GFR 30.9 ± 10.8 mL/min) showed that after a single 150 mg dose of sustained-release bupropion, exposure to bupropion was approximately 2-fold higher in subjects with impaired renal function, while levels of the hydroxybupropion and threo/erythrohydrobupropion (combined) metabolites were similar in the 2 groups. Bupropion is extensively metabolized in the liver to active metabolites, which are further metabolized and subsequently excreted by the kidneys. The elimination of the major metabolites of bupropion may be reduced by impaired renal function. Bupropion hydrochloride extended-release tablets (XL) should be used with caution in patients with renal impairment and a reduced frequency and/or dose should be considered [see Dosage and Administration (2.7)and Use in Specific Populations (8.6)].
The effect of hepatic impairment on the pharmacokinetics of bupropion was characterized in 2 single-dose trials, one in subjects with alcoholic liver disease and one in subjects with mild to severe cirrhosis. The first trial demonstrated that the half-life of hydroxybupropion was significantly longer in 8 subjects with alcoholic liver disease than in 8 healthy volunteers (32±14 hours versus 21±5 hours, respectively). Although not statistically significant, the AUCs for bupropion and hydroxybupropion were more variable and tended to be greater (by 53% to 57%) in patients with alcoholic liver disease. The differences in half-life for bupropion and the other metabolites in the 2 groups were minimal.
The second trial demonstrated no statistically significant differences in the pharmacokinetics of bupropion and its active metabolites in 9 subjects with mild to moderate hepatic cirrhosis compared to 8 healthy volunteers. However, more variability was observed in some of the pharmacokinetic parameters for bupropion (AUC, C max , and T max ) and its active metabolites (t1/2) in subjects with mild to moderate hepatic cirrhosis. In addition, in patients with severe hepatic cirrhosis, the bupropion Cmax and AUC were substantially increased (mean difference: by approximately 70% and 3-fold, respectively) and more variable when compared to values in healthy volunteers; the mean bupropion half-life was also longer (29 hours in subjects with severe hepatic cirrhosis vs. 19 hours in healthy subjects). For the metabolite hydroxybupropion, the mean C max was approximately 69% lower. For the combined amino-alcohol isomers threohydrobupropion and erythrohydrobupropion, the mean C max was approximately 31% lower. The mean AUC increased by about 1½-fold for hydroxybupropion and about 2½-fold for threo/erythrohydrobupropion. The median T max was observed 19 hours later for hydroxybupropion and 31 hours later for threo/erythrohydrobupropion. The mean half-lives for hydroxybupropion and threo/erythrohydrobupropion were increased 5- and 2-fold, respectively, in patients with severe hepatic cirrhosis compared to healthy volunteers [see Dosage and Administration (2.6)and Use in Specific Populations (8.7)].
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