Fellowship for Thomas Wooters: Reinforcing and Neurochemical Effects of Cocaine in a Rodent Model of ADHD

Grants and Contracts Details


The use of methylphenidate (MPH) for the treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has increased in recent years. However, MPH has abuse potential and is typically administered during early development, prompting some concern that early MPH exposure may increase the risk for substance abuse later in life. Despite of this, there is a notable lack of experimental data directly examining the influence of oral MPH exposure on subsequent cocaine (COC) abuse. This is critical because MPH and COC produce similar behavioral and neurochemical effects, and because COC abuse is prevalent in the ADHD population. In the present application, experiments are proposed to examine the role of developmental exposure to oral MPH on vulnerability for COC abuse in early adulthood in the spontaneously-hypertensive rat (SHR) model of ADHD; Sprague-Dawley rats will be used as controls. Specific Aim 1 will determine whether repeated oral MPH administration during postnatal days (PND) 28-42 (Le., periadolescence) alters the locomotor effect of COC on PND 75 (Le., early adulthood). Specific Aim 2 will test for MPH-induced alterations in COC selfadministration. MPH-treated rats will be trained to self-administer COC under a fixed ratio (FR) 1 schedule during a single training session on PND 75. Then, over the next 14 days, COC infusions will be available under a progressive ratio (PR) schedule to assess motivational aspects of COC self-administration following developmental MPH exposure. This protocol has been shown previously to produce progressive increases ('sensitization') of PR breakpoints, and should therefore be more sensitive than FR schedules for detecting potential enduring MPH-induced alterations in the reinforcing efficacy of COCo Food-maintained responding will also be assessed to determine whether MPH selectively alters motivation for COC reinforcement. Specific Aim 3 will assess the effect of COC on dopamine transporter (DAT) function in the nucleus accumbens (NAcc) and medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) of MPH-treated rats in early adulthood. The NAcc and mPFC are implicated in COC abuse as well as ADHD; thus, the effect of systemic COC on clearance of locally-applied dopamine in these regions will be monitored with in vivo voltammetry (high-speed chronoamperometry) in order to determine whether OAT is a substrate for potential MPH-induced alterations in COC self-administration. Collectively, these preclinical results should provide clinically-relevant information on the association between oral MPH exposure during adolescence and subsequent COC abuse in early adulthood. These results may also aid the development of safer AOHO medications and should enhance our understanding of the etiology of COC abuse in the vulnerable ADHD population.
Effective start/end date3/24/083/23/09


  • National Institute on Drug Abuse: $29,304.00


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