Background: The neural consequences of early-life exposure to methylphenidate (MPH; Ritalin) are of great interest given the widespread, and sometimes inappropriate, use in children. Here we examine the impact of juvenile MPH exposure on adult hippocampal neurogenesis. Methods: Rats received MPH (2.0 mg/kg, intraperitoneal, twice daily) or saline (SAL) during preadolescence (postnatal days 20-35). Hippocampal cell proliferation (Experiment 1), neurogenesis (Experiment 2), and stress-induced changes in cell proliferation (Experiment 3) were assessed at several developmental stages including adulthood. Results: Juvenile exposure to MPH did not alter proliferation at any developmental time point relative to control rats; however, exposure to MPH significantly decreased the long-term survival of newborn cells in adult rats, particularly in the temporal hippocampus. Although MPH-treated rats had higher levels of corticosterone after restraint stress, they did not show the expected greater decrease in hippocampal cell proliferation relative to control animals. Conclusions: Early-life exposure to MPH inhibits the survival of adult-generated neurons in the temporal hippocampus and may reduce progenitor sensitivity to corticosterone-induced decreases in proliferation. These findings suggest that decreased adult neurogenesis is an enduring consequence of early-life exposure to MPH and are discussed for their relevance to humans.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biological Psychiatry