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Mol Psychiatry. 2009 Feb;14(2):123-42. doi: 10.1038/mp.2008.90. Epub 2008 Aug 12.

Potential adverse effects of amphetamine treatment on brain and behavior: a review.

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1
Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90024-1759, USA.

Erratum in

  • Mol Psychiatry. 2010 Nov;15(11):1121.

Abstract

Amphetamine stimulants have been used medically since early in the twentieth century, but they have a high abuse potential and can be neurotoxic. Although they have long been used effectively to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children and adolescents, amphetamines are now being prescribed increasingly as maintenance therapy for ADHD and narcolepsy in adults, considerably extending the period of potential exposure. Effects of prolonged stimulant treatment have not been fully explored, and understanding such effects is a research priority. Because the pharmacokinetics of amphetamines differ between children and adults, reevaluation of the potential for adverse effects of chronic treatment of adults is essential. Despite information on the effects of stimulants in laboratory animals, profound species differences in susceptibility to stimulant-induced neurotoxicity underscore the need for systematic studies of prolonged human exposure. Early amphetamine treatment has been linked to slowing in height and weight growth in some children. Because the number of prescriptions for amphetamines has increased several fold over the past decade, an amphetamine-containing formulation is the most commonly prescribed stimulant in North America, and it is noteworthy that amphetamines are also the most abused prescription medications. Although early treatment does not increase risk for substance abuse, few studies have tracked the compliance and usage profiles of individuals who began amphetamine treatment as adults. Overall, there is concern about risk for slowed growth in young patients who are dosed continuously, and for substance abuse in patients first medicated in late adolescence or adulthood. Although most adult patients also use amphetamines effectively and safely, occasional case reports indicate that prescription use can produce marked psychological adverse events, including stimulant-induced psychosis. Assessments of central toxicity and adverse psychological effects during late adulthood and senescence of adults who receive prolonged courses of amphetamine treatment are warranted. Finally, identification of the biological factors that confer risk and those that offer protection is also needed to better specify the parameters of safe, long-term, therapeutic administration of amphetamines to adults.

PMID:
18698321
PMCID:
PMC2670101
DOI:
10.1038/mp.2008.90
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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