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J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2004 Nov;43(11):1422-9.

Comparative pharmacodynamics and plasma concentrations of d-threo-methylphenidate hydrochloride after single doses of d-threo-methylphenidate hydrochloride and d,l-threo-methylphenidate hydrochloride in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover laboratory school study in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

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1
Division of Child Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan Canada.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

Methylphenidate has four optical isomers due to two asymmetries (erythro-threo and dextro-levo). The initial commercial formulation eliminated the erythro isomer, but the dextro-levo asymmetry was racemic, with equal amounts of d and l-threo isomers (d,l-MPH). Previous work has suggested that the d-threo isomer methylphenidate (d-MPH) rather than the l-threo isomer (l-MPH) is responsible for the clinical effects in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This study compared the efficacy of acute equimolar doses of d-MPH and dl-MPH in reducing ADHD symptoms over an 8-hour period in a laboratory school setting and investigated the relationship of efficacy to plasma levels of MPH.

METHOD:

Thirty-two children with ADHD enrolled in this double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study, and 31 completed the study. On seven separate occasions separated by at least 6 days, the children received a single morning dose of d-MPH (2.5, 5, or 10 mg), d,l-MPH (5, 10, or 20 mg), or placebo and then were observed in a laboratory classroom setting for 8 hours. At specified intervals, blinded observers rated behavior, and the children performed a computerized math test. The plasma levels of MPH were related to the response to study medication. The safety profiles of the two formulations were compared.

RESULTS:

For both formulations, the responses to both MPH preparations were dose related, the plasma concentrations of l-MPH were negligible and of d-MPH were indistinguishable, and clinical efficacy was highly correlated with plasma concentrations of d-MPH. The efficacy of the d-isomer was equivalent to the racemic preparation in reducing ADHD symptoms and increasing academic productivity.

CONCLUSIONS:

The efficacy of MPH resides in the d-isomer. The elimination of the l-isomer does not diminish the efficacy of an acute dose of methylphenidate.

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