Pregnancy Has No Clinically Significant Effect on the Pharmacokinetics of Bupropion or Its Metabolites

Emily E. Fay, Lindsay C. Czuba, Jennifer E. Sager, Sara Shum, Alyssa Stephenson-Famy, Nina Isoherranen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background:Bupropion (BUP) is a chiral antidepressant and smoking cessation aide with benefits and side effects correlated with parent and active metabolite concentrations. BUP is metabolized by CYP2B6, CYP2C19, and CYP3A4 to hydroxy-BUP (OH-BUP) as well as by 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase-1 and aldo-keto reductases to threohydrobupropion (Threo) and erythrohydrobupropion (Erythro), respectively. As pregnancy alters the activity of drug-metabolizing enzymes, the authors hypothesized that BUP metabolism and BUP metabolite concentrations would be altered during pregnancy, potentially affecting the efficacy and safety of BUP in pregnant women.Methods:Pregnant women (n = 8) taking BUP chronically were enrolled, and steady-state plasma samples and dosing interval urine samples were collected during pregnancy and postpartum. Maternal and umbilical cord venous blood samples were collected at delivery from 3 subjects, and cord blood/maternal plasma concentration ratios were calculated. The concentrations of BUP stereoisomers and their metabolites were measured. Paired t tests were used to compare pharmacokinetic parameters during pregnancy and postpartum.Results:No significant changes were observed in the steady-state plasma concentrations, metabolite to parent ratios, formation clearances, or renal clearance of any of the compounds during pregnancy when compared with postpartum. The umbilical cord venous plasma concentrations of BUP and its metabolites were 30%-60% lower than maternal plasma concentrations.Conclusions:This study showed that there are no clinically meaningful differences in the stereoselective disposition of BUP or its metabolites during pregnancy, indicating that dose adjustment during pregnancy may not be necessary. The results also showed that the placenta provides a partial barrier for bupropion and its metabolite distribution to the fetus, with possible placental efflux transport of bupropion and its metabolites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)780-788
Number of pages9
JournalTherapeutic Drug Monitoring
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded by the National Institutes of Health grants T32 GM007750 and National Institutes of Drug Abuse P01DA032507.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Lippincott Williams and Wilkins. All rights reserved.


  • bupropion
  • pharmacokinetics
  • pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Pharmacology


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