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Behav Brain Res. 2010 Dec 20;215(1):39-44. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2010.06.022. Epub 2010 Jun 25.

Chronic caffeine treatment during prepubertal period confers long-term cognitive benefits in adult spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR), an animal model of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

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Departamento de Farmacologia, Centro de Ciências Biológicas, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Campus Universitário Trindade, 88049-900 Florianópolis, SC, Brazil.


The spontaneously hypertensive rat (SHR) is frequently used as an experimental model for the study of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) since it displays behavioural and neurochemical features of ADHD. Increasing evidence suggests that caffeine might represent an important therapeutic tool for the treatment of ADHD and we recently demonstrated that the acute administration of caffeine improves several learning and memory impairments in adult SHR rats. Here we further evaluated the potential of caffeine in ADHD therapy. Female Wistar (WIS) and SHR rats were treated with caffeine (3mg/kg, i.p.) or methylphenidate (MPD, 2mg/kg, i.p.) for 14 consecutive days during the prepubertal period (post-natal days 25-38) and they were tested later in adulthood in the object-recognition task. WIS rats discriminated all the objects used, whereas SHR were not able to discriminate pairs of objects with subtle structural differences. Chronic treatment with caffeine or MPD improved the object-recognition deficits in SHR rats. Surprisingly, these treatments impaired the short-term object-recognition ability in adult WIS rats. The present drug effects are independent of changes in locomotor activity, arterial blood pressure and body weight in both rat strains. These findings suggest that chronic caffeine treatment during prepubertal period confers long-term cognitive benefits in discriminative learning impairments of SHR, suggesting caffeine as an alternative therapeutic strategy for the early management of ADHD symptoms. Nevertheless, our results also emphasize the importance of a correct diagnosis and the caution in the use of stimulant drugs such as caffeine and MPD during neurodevelopment since they can disrupt discriminative learning in non-ADHD phenotypes.

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