The impact of psychostimulant administration during development on adult brain functions controlling motivation, impulsivity and cognition.
ADHD pharmacotherapy uses methylphenidate (MPH), D-amphetamine (D-amph), two psychostimulants targeting dopamine transporters, or atomoxetine (ATX), specifically targeting norepinephrine transporters. We have assessed the pharmacological mechanisms of these three drugs on the in vitro efflux of neurotransmitters in rat prefrontal cortex (PFC) and striatal slices as well as on the in vivo electrical activities of PFC pyramidal neurons, striatal medium spiny neurons, ventral tegmental area dopamine neurons or dorsal raphe nucleus serotonin neurons, using single cell extracellular electrophysiological recording techniques. We have also tested whether chronic methylphenidate treatment, during either adolescence or adulthood, could have long-lasting consequences on body growth, depression and neuronal functions. Release experiments showed that all ADHD drugs induce dose-dependent dopamine efflux in both the PFC and striatum, with different efficacies, while only D-amph induced cortical norepinephrine efflux. Atomoxetine induced an unexpected massive dopamine outflow in striatal regions, by mechanisms that depend on physiological parameters. Our electrophysiological studies indicate that all three drugs equally stimulate the excitability of PFC pyramidal neurons, in basal and NMDA-evoked conditions, when administered acutely (3 mg/kg). While the electrophysiological effects elicited by psychostimulants may be dependent on D1 receptor activation, those induced by atomoxetine relied on different mechanisms. In the ventral tegmental area (VTA), methylphenidate (2 mg/kg), but not atomoxetine, induced firing and burst activity reductions, through dopamine D2 autoreceptor activation. Reversal of such effects (eticlopride 0.2 mg/kg) revealed an excitatory effect of methylphenidate on midbrain dopamine neurons that appear to be dependent on glutamate pathways and the combination of D1 and alpha-1 receptors. Finally, acute intraperitoneal psychostimulant ii injections increased vertical locomotor activity as well as NMDA2B protein expression in the striatum. Some animals chronically treated with intraperitoneal administrations (methylphenidate 4 mg/kg/day or saline 1.2 ml/kg/day) showed decreased body weight gain. Voluntary oral methylphenidate intake induces desensitisation to subsequent intravenous methylphenidate challenges, without altering dopamine D2 receptor plasticity. Significant decreases in striatal NMDA2B protein expression were observed in animals chronically treated. After adolescent MPH treatment, midbrain dopaminergic neurons do not display either desensitisation or sensitisation to intravenous methylphenidate re-challenges. However, partial dopamine D2 receptor desensitisation was observed in midbrain dopamine neurons. Using behavioural experiments, cross-sensitisation between adolescent methylphenidate exposure and later-life D-amphetamine challenge was observed. Significant decreases in striatal NMDA2B protein expression were observed in animals chronically treated, while striatal medium spiny neurons showed decreased sensitivities to locally applied NMDA and dopamine. While caffeine is devoid of action on baseline spike generation and burst activity of dopamine neurons, nicotine induces either firing rate enhancement, firing rate reduction, or has no consequences. Adolescent methylphenidate treatment leads to decreased neuronal sensitivities to the combination of nicotine, MPH and eticlopride, compared to controls. Finally, nicotine partially prevented D-amphetamine-induced increase of rearing activities. Our results show that increases in the excitability of PFC neurons in basal conditions and via NMDA receptor activation may be involved in the therapeutic response to ADHD drugs. Long-term consequences were observed after psychostimulant exposure. Such novel findings strengthen the mixed hypothesis in ADHD, whereby both dopamine and glutamate neurotransmissions are dysregulated. Therefore, ADHD therapy may now focus on adequate balancing between glutamate and dopamine.
Citation : Di Miceli, M.(2016). The impact of psychostimulant administration during development on adult brain functions controlling motivation, impulsivity and cognition. Unpublished PhD Thesis. De Montfort Universiy, Leicester.
- Leicester School of Pharmacy