Methylphenidate treatment during pre- and periadolescence alters behavioral responses to emotional stimuli at adulthood
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BACKGROUND: Methylphenidate (MPH) is a psychomotor stimulant medication widely used for the treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Given the extent of prescribed use of MPH, and because MPH interacts with the same brain pathways activated by drugs of abuse, most research has focused on assessing MPH's potential to alter an individual's risk for adult drug addiction. Data examining other potential long-term behavioral consequences of early MPH administration are lacking, however. METHODS: We investigated the long-term behavioral consequences of chronic administration of MPH (2.0 mg/kg) during pre- and periadolescent development in adult rats by assessing their behavioral reactivity to a variety of emotional stimuli. RESULTS: The MPH-treated animals were significantly less responsive to natural rewards such as sucrose, novelty-induced activity, and sex compared with vehicle-treated control animals. In contrast, MPH-treated animals were significantly more sensitive to stressful situations, showed increased anxiety-like behaviors, and had enhanced plasma levels of corticosterone. CONCLUSIONS: Chronic exposure to MPH during development leads to decreased sensitivity to rewarding stimuli and results in enhanced responsivity to aversive situations. These results highlight the need for further research to improve understanding of the effects of stimulants on the developing nervous system and the potential enduring effects resulting from early-life drug exposure.
author list (cited authors)
Bolaños, C. A., Barrot, M., Berton, O., Wallace-Black, D., & Nestler, E. J.