Background—Medications development efforts for methamphetamine-use disorder have targeted central monoamines because these systems are directly involved in the effects of methamphetamine. Buspirone is a dopamine autoreceptor and D3 receptor antagonist and partial agonist at serotonin 1A receptors, making it a logical candidate medication for methamphetamine-use disorder. Buspirone effects on abuse-related behaviors of methamphetamine have been mixed in clinical and preclinical studies. Experimental research using maintenance dosing, which models therapeutic use, is limited. This study evaluated the influence of buspirone maintenance on the reinforcing effects of methamphetamine using a self-administration procedure, which has predictive validity for clinical efficacy. The impact of buspirone maintenance on the subjective and cardiovascular response to methamphetamine was also determined.

Methods—Eight research participants (1 female) reporting recent illicit stimulant use completed a placebo-controlled, crossover, double-blind protocol in which the pharmacodynamic effects of intranasal methamphetamine (0, 15, and 30 mg) were assessed after at least 6 days of buspirone (0 and 45 mg/day) maintenance.

Results—Intranasal methamphetamine functioned as a reinforcer and produced prototypical stimulant-like subjective (e.g., increased ratings of Good Effects and Like Drug) and cardiovascular (e.g., elevated blood pressure) effects. These effects of methamphetamine were similar under buspirone and placebo maintenance conditions. Maintenance on buspirone was well tolerated and devoid of effects when administered alone.

Conclusions—These data suggest that buspirone is unlikely to be an effective pharmacotherapy for methamphetamine-use disorder. Given the central role of monoamines in methamphetamine-use disorder, it is reasonable for future studies to continue to target these systems.

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Published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence, v. 181, p. 25-29.

© 2017 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

This manuscript version is made available under the CC‐BY‐NC‐ND 4.0 license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/.

The document available for download is the author's post-peer-review final draft of the article.

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Funding Information

This research and the preparation of this manuscript were supported by grant numbers R21 DA0354810 (CRR) and T32 DA016176 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and grant number 1247392 (JCS) from the National Science Foundation.