Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Ritalin May Cause Long-Lasting Changes In Brain-Cell Function, University At Buffalo Researchers Find

Date:
November 12, 2001
Source:
University At Buffalo
Summary:
Scientists at the University at Buffalo have shown that the drug methylphenidate, the generic form of Ritalin, which physicians have considered to have only short-term effects, appears to initiate changes in brain function that remain after the therapeutic effects have dissipated.

SAN DIEGO -- Scientists at the University at Buffalo have shown that the drug methylphenidate, the generic form of Ritalin, which physicians have considered to have only short-term effects, appears to initiate changes in brain function that remain after the therapeutic effects have dissipated.

The changes appear to be similar to those that occur with other stimulant drugs such as amphetamine and cocaine, said Joan Baizer, Ph.D., UB professor of physiology and biophysics and senior author of the study. Results of the research were presented here today (Nov. 11, 2001) at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience.

"Clinicians consider Ritalin to be short-acting," said Baizer. "When the active dose has worked its way through the system, they consider it 'all gone.' Our research with gene expression in an animal model suggests that it has the potential for causing long-lasting changes in brain cell structure and function." Ritalin is the drug of choice for the treatment of attention deficit disorder in children.

Baizer stated, however, that while the neuronal changes are similar to those seen with cocaine and other psychoactive drugs, it does not seem that methylphenidate in very low doses, as used therapeutically, produces much potential for drug abuse.

"Children have been given Ritalin daily for many years, and it is extremely effective and beneficial, but it's not quite as simple as a short-acting drug," Baizer said. "We need to look at it more closely." Baizer added: "Ritalin does appear to be safe when used properly, but it is still important to ask what it is doing in the brain."

Previous work in other laboratories has shown that high doses of amphetamine and cocaine switch on certain genes called "immediate early genes" in particular brain cells and that this action causes changes in some aspects of nerve cell function. One of those genes is called "c-fos." Amphetamine and cocaine both cause c-fos activity in the striatum, a brain structure important for both movement and motivation, and the presence of c-fos activity there has been implicated in the mechanism of addiction, Baizer said. The researchers wanted to see if methylphenidate caused c-fos activation in the same parts of the brain, and at the same levels, as the other drugs.

Using young rats as an animal model, they gave one group sweetened milk containing a relatively high dose of methylphenidate (20 mg/kg). Considering the differences in metabolism between rats and humans, this is comparable approximately to a dose on the high end of the range that is used therapeutically, Baizer said. They administered the drug at a time during the rat's 24-hour cycle that would simulate the timing of a child's dose. Another group received just sweetened milk. After 90 minutes, the optimal time for c-fos development in brain cells, the brains of both groups were analyzed for the presence of c-fos.

Results showed there were many more neurons with c-fos activity in the brains of rats given methylphenidate, particularly in the striatum, Baizer said, than in the brains of control rats. Rats receiving no treatment and sacrificed after a period of rest showed still less c-fos activity, suggesting that some of the c-fos activity is related to moving around in the home cage and not a pure drug effect.

"These data do suggest that there are effects of Ritalin on cell function that outlast the short term and we should sort that out," Baizer said. "There is no indication of tolerance, but we have no idea if there is adaptation to the effects."

One next step, she said, is to use microarray technology to see what other genes are turned on in response to short and long-term Ritalin use. Additional researchers on the study were Ashley Acheson, a graduate student in the UB Department of Psychology; Alexis Thompson, Ph.D., a research scientist at the UB Research Institute on Addictions, and Mark B. Kristal, Ph.D., UB professor of psychology.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University At Buffalo. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University At Buffalo. "Ritalin May Cause Long-Lasting Changes In Brain-Cell Function, University At Buffalo Researchers Find." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 November 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/11/011112073546.htm>.
University At Buffalo. (2001, November 12). Ritalin May Cause Long-Lasting Changes In Brain-Cell Function, University At Buffalo Researchers Find. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/11/011112073546.htm
University At Buffalo. "Ritalin May Cause Long-Lasting Changes In Brain-Cell Function, University At Buffalo Researchers Find." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/11/011112073546.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Pregnancy Spacing Could Have Big Impact On Autism Risks

Pregnancy Spacing Could Have Big Impact On Autism Risks

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) A new study says children born less than one year and more than five years after a sibling can have an increased risk for autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stopping School Violence

Stopping School Violence

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) A trauma doctor steps out of the hospital and into the classroom to teach kids how to calmly solve conflicts, avoiding a trip to the ER. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pineal Cysts: Debilitating Pain

Pineal Cysts: Debilitating Pain

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) A tiny cyst in the brain that can cause debilitating symptoms like chronic headaches and insomnia, and the doctor who performs the delicate surgery to remove them. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Burning Away Brain Tumors

Burning Away Brain Tumors

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) Doctors are 'cooking' brain tumors. Hear how this new laser-heat procedure cuts down on recovery time. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins