Antidepressant Treatment Can Normalize Adult Behavioral Deficits Induced by Early-Life Exposure to Methylphenidate Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND: Methylphenidate (MPH) is prescribed for the treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Exposure to MPH before adulthood causes behavioral deficits later in life, including anxiety- and depression-like behaviors and decreased responding to natural and drug rewards. We examined the ability of fluoxetine (FLX), a selective serotonin reuptake blocker, to normalize these MPH-induced behavioral deficits. METHODS: Male rats received MPH (2.0 mg/kg) or saline (VEH) during preadolescence (postnatal day [PD] 20-35). When adults, rats were divided into groups receiving no treatment, acute or chronic FLX, and behavioral reactivity to several emotion-eliciting stimuli were assessed. RESULTS: The MPH-treated rats were significantly less responsive to natural (i.e., sucrose) and drug (i.e., morphine) rewards and more sensitive to stress- and anxiety-eliciting situations. These MPH-induced deficits were reversed by exposure to FLX. CONCLUSIONS: These results indicate that exposure to MPH during preadolescence leads to behavioral alterations that endure into adulthood and that these behavioral deficits can be normalized by antidepressant treatment. These results highlight the need for further research to better understand the effects of stimulants on the developing nervous system and the potential enduring effects resulting from early-life drug exposure.

author list (cited authors)

  • BolaƱos, C. A., Willey, M. D., Maffeo, M. L., Powers, K. D., Kinka, D. W., Grausam, K. B., & Henderson, R. P.

citation count

  • 50

publication date

  • September 2007