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Neuroscience. 2010 Jun 2;167(4):1183-91. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2010.02.073. Epub 2010 Mar 6.

Methylphenidate normalizes elevated dopamine transporter densities in an animal model of the attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder combined type, but not to the same extent in one of the attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder inattentive type.

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Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University of Goettingen, Germany.


The spontaneously hypertensive rat (SHR/NCrl) is a validated model of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) combined subtype, whereas a recently identified substrain of the Wistar Kyoto rat (WKY/NCrl) is a model of ADHD inattentive subtype. In this study, we first examined the expression of genes involved in dopamine signaling and metabolism in the dorsal striatum and ventral mesencephalon of these two rat strains, as well as three reference control strains (WKY/NHsd, WK/HanTac, and SD/NTac) using quantitative real time RT-PCR. Next, striatal dopamine transporter (DAT) density was determined by ligand binding assay in the two ADHD-like strains at different developmental stages and after methylphenidate treatment. In adult rats, the mRNA expression of DAT and tyrosine hydroxylase was elevated in SHR/NCrl and WKY/NCrl rats compared to control strains, with differences between SHR/NCrl and WKY/NCrl rats also evident. During normal development, changes of striatal DAT densities occurred in both strains with lower densities in WKY/NCrl compared to SHR/NCrl after day 25. Two-weeks methylphenidate treatment during different developmental stages was associated with decreased striatal DAT density in both rat strains compared to the non-treated rats with more pronounced effects followed prepubertal treatment. These results suggest differences in the pathophysiology of the combined versus the predominantly inattentive animal model of ADHD. Finally, treatment with methylphenidate might reduce elevated DAT levels more effectively in the combined subtype especially when applied before puberty.

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