Faculty Articles

Abstinence from Chronic Methylphenidate Exposure Modifies Cannabinoid Receptor 1 Levels in the Brain in a Dose-dependent Manner

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Current Pharmaceutical Design








INTRODUCTION: Methylphenidate (MP) is a widely used psychostimulant prescribed for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and is also used illicitly by healthy individuals. Chronic exposure to MP has been shown to affect physiology, behavior measures, and neurochemistry.

METHODS: The present study examined its effect on the endocannabinoid system. Adolescent rats had daily oral access to either water (control), low dose MP (4/10 mg/kg), or high dose MP (30/60 mg/kg). After 13 weeks of exposure, half of the rats in each group were euthanized, with the remaining rats underwent a four-week- long abstinence period. Cannabinoid receptor 1 binding (CB1) was measured with in vitro autoradiography using [3H] SR141716A.

RESULTS: Rats who underwent a 4-week abstinence period after exposure to chronic HD MP showed increased CB1 binding in several cortical and basal ganglia regions of the brain compared to rats with no abstinence period. In contrast to this, rats who underwent a 4-week abstinence period after exposure to chronic LD MP showed lower CB1 binding mainly in the basal ganglia regions and the hindlimb region of the somatosensory cortex compared to rats with no abstinence period. Following 4 weeks of drug abstinence, rats who were previously given HD MP showed higher [3H] SR141716A binding in many of the cortical and basal ganglia regions examined than rats given LD MP. These results highlight the biphasic effects of MP treatment on cannabinoid receptor levels. Abstinence from HD MP seemed to increase CB1 receptor levels, while abstinence from LD MP seemed to decrease CB1 levels.

CONCLUSION: Given the prolific expression of cannabinoid receptors throughout the brain, many types of behaviors may be affected as a result of MP abstinence. Further research will be needed to help identify these behavioral changes.



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Peer Reviewed