The genetic toxicity of methylphenidate: A review of the current literature

Division of Genetic and Molecular Toxicology, National Center for Toxicological Research, US FDA, Jefferson, AR 72079, USA.
Journal of Applied Toxicology (Impact Factor: 2.98). 10/2012; 32(10):756-64. DOI: 10.1002/jat.2721
Source: PubMed


Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a common children's behavioral disorder, is characterized by inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. The disorder is thought to stem from abnormalities in the catecholamine pathway and the symptoms of the disorder have been successfully treated with methylphenidate (MPH) since the FDA approved the drug in the 1950s. MPH underwent the appropriate safety testing as part of the FDA approval process; however, a publication in 2005 that reported significant increases in cytogenetic damage in the lymphocytes of MPH-treated pediatric patients caused concern for patients and their families, the pharmaceutical industry and regulatory agencies. This communication will review the many studies that were subsequently initiated worldwide to address the genetic safety of MPH in both animal models and human subjects. Animal experiments broadened the study protocols used in the 2005 investigation to include a wider dose-range, a longer treatment period and automated scoring of biological endpoints, where possible, to reduce observer bias. The human subject studies replicated the experimental design used in the 2005 study, but increased the treatment periods and the sizes of the study populations. Neither the laboratory animal nor human subject studies found an increase in any of the measures of genetic damage that were evaluated. Taken together, these new studies are consistent with the original safety evaluation of the FDA and do not support the hypothesis that MPH treatment increases the risk of genetic damage in ADHD patients. Published 2012. This article is a US Government work and is in the public domain in the USA.

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