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Pediatr Res. 2003 May;53(5):756-61. Epub 2003 Mar 5.

Catecholamine response to exercise in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

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1
Child Development Center, University of California, Irvine 92612, USA.

Abstract

The objective of this study was to examine differences in catecholamine (CA) response to exercise between children who had received a diagnosis of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and age- and gender-matched controls. On the basis of the notion of a CA dysfunction in ADHD, we reasoned that the normal robust increase in circulating CA seen in response to exercise would be blunted in children with ADHD. To test this, we recruited 10 treatment-naïve children with newly diagnosed ADHD and 8 age-matched controls (all male) and measured CA response to an exercise test in which the work was scaled to each subject's physical capability. After exercise, epinephrine and norepinephrine increased in both control and ADHD subjects (p = 0.006 and p = 0.002, respectively), but the responses were substantially blunted in the ADHD group (p = 0.018) even though the work performed did not differ from controls. Circulating dopamine increased significantly in the control subjects (p < 0.016), but no increase was noted in the subjects with ADHD. Finally, a significant attenuation in the lactate response to exercise was found in ADHD (between groups, p < 0.005). Our data suggest that CA excretion after exercise challenges in children with ADHD is deficient. This deficiency can be detected using a minimally invasive, nonpharmacologic challenge.

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