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Behav Brain Res. 2012 Jan 1;226(1):8-17. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2011.08.027. Epub 2011 Aug 25.

Sex differences in the behavioral response to methylphenidate in three adolescent rat strains (WKY, SHR, SD).

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  • 1Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy, University of Texas-Houston, Medical School, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


Methylphenidate (MPD) is the most widely used drug in the treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). ADHD has a high incidence in children and can persist in adolescence and adulthood. The relation between sex and the effects of acute and chronic MPD treatment was examined using adolescent male and female rats from three genetically different strains: spontaneously hyperactive rat (SHR), Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) and Sprague-Dawley (SD). Rats from each strain and sex were randomly divided into a control group that received saline injections and three MPD groups that received either 0.6 or 2.5 or 10mg/kg MPD injections. All rats received saline on experimental day 1 (ED1). On ED2 to ED7 and ED11, the rats were injected either with saline or MPD and received no treatment on ED8-ED10. The open field assay was used to assess the dose-response of acute and chronic MPD administration. Significant sex differences were found. Female SHR and SD rats were significantly more active after MPD injections than their male counterparts, while the female WKY rats were less active than the male WKY rats. Dose dependent behavioral sensitization or tolerance to MPD treatment was not observed for SHR or SD rats, but tolerance to MPD was found in WKY rats for the 10mg/kg MPD dose. The use of dose-response protocol and evaluating different locomotor indices provides the means to identify differences between the sexes and the genetic strain in adolescent rats. In addition these differences suggest that the differences to MPD treatment between the sexes are not due to the reproductive hormones.

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