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Methylphenidate is an established treatment for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder that also has abuse potential. Both properties may relate to blocking dopamine and norepinephrine reuptake. We measured the effects of methylphenidate on dopamine dynamics in freely moving rats. Methylphenidate alone had no effect on the amplitude of phasic responses to cues or reward. However, when administered with the D2 receptor antagonist raclopride, methylphenidate increased dopamine responses, while raclopride alone had no effect. Using brain slices of substantia nigra or striatum, we confirmed that methylphenidate effects on firing rate of nigral dopamine neurons and dopamine release from terminals are constrained by negative feedback. A computational model using physiologically relevant parameters revealed that actions of methylphenidate on norepinephrine and dopamine transporters, and the effects of changes in tonic dopamine levels on D2 receptors, are necessary and sufficient to account for the experimental findings. In addition, non-linear fitting of the model to the data from freely moving animals revealed that methylphenidate significantly slowed the initial cue response dynamics. These results show that homeostatic regulation of dopamine release in the face of changing tonic levels of extracellular dopamine should be taken into account to understand the therapeutic benefits and abuse potential of methylphenidate.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Progress in neurobiology
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