Psychostimulant-Induced Gene Regulation in Corticostriatal Circuits

Handbook of Behavioral Neuroscience 01/2010; 20:501-525. DOI: 10.1016/B978-0-12-374767-9.00029-9
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Available from: Heinz Steiner, Oct 02, 2015
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    ABSTRACT: There is growing use of psychostimulant cognitive enhancers such as methylphenidate (Ritalin). Methylphenidate differs from the psychostimulant cocaine because it does not enhance synaptic levels of serotonin. We investigated whether exposure to methylphenidate combined with a serotonin-enhancing medication, the prototypical selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) fluoxetine (Prozac), would produce more "cocaine-like" molecular and behavioral changes. We measured the effects of fluoxetine on gene expression induced by the cognitive enhancer methylphenidate in the striatum and nucleus accumbens of rats, by in situ hybridization histochemistry. We also determined whether fluoxetine modified behavioral effects of methylphenidate. Fluoxetine robustly potentiated methylphenidate-induced expression of the transcription factors c-fos and zif 268 throughout the striatum and to some degree in the nucleus accumbens. Fluoxetine also enhanced methylphenidate-induced stereotypical behavior. Both potentiated gene regulation in the striatum and the behavioral effects indicate that combining the SSRI fluoxetine with the cognitive enhancer methylphenidate mimics cocaine effects, consistent with an increased risk for substance use disorder.
    Biological psychiatry 11/2009; 67(6):592-4. DOI:10.1016/j.biopsych.2009.10.004 · 10.26 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: J. Neurochem. (2012) 122, 1054–1064. Concomitant therapies combining psychostimulants such as methylphenidate and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are used to treat several mental disorders, including attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder/depression comorbidity. The neurobiological consequences of these drug combinations are poorly understood. Methylphenidate alone induces gene regulation that mimics partly effects of cocaine, consistent with some addiction liability. We previously showed that the SSRI fluoxetine potentiates methylphenidate-induced gene regulation in the striatum. The present study investigated which striatal output pathways are affected by the methylphenidate + fluoxetine combination, by assessing effects on pathway-specific neuropeptide markers. Results demonstrate that fluoxetine (5 mg/kg) potentiates methylphenidate (5 mg/kg)-induced expression of substance P and dynorphin, markers for direct pathway neurons. In contrast, no drug effects on the indirect pathway marker enkephalin were found. Because methylphenidate alone has minimal effects on dynorphin, the potentiation of dynorphin induction represents a more cocaine-like effect for the drug combination. On the other hand, the lack of an effect on enkephalin suggests a greater selectivity for the direct pathway compared with psychostimulants such as cocaine. Overall, the fluoxetine potentiation of gene regulation by methylphenidate occurs preferentially in sensorimotor striatal circuits, similar to other addictive psychostimulants. These results suggest that SSRIs may enhance the addiction liability of methylphenidate.
    Journal of Neurochemistry 06/2012; 122(5):1054-64. DOI:10.1111/j.1471-4159.2012.07852.x · 4.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The psychostimulants methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta), amphetamine (Adderall), and modafinil (Provigil) are widely used in the treatment of medical conditions such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy and, increasingly, as "cognitive enhancers" by healthy people. The long-term neuronal effects of these drugs, however, are poorly understood. A substantial amount of research over the past two decades has investigated the effects of psychostimulants such as cocaine and amphetamines on gene regulation in the brain because these molecular changes are considered critical for psychostimulant addiction. This work has determined in some detail the neurochemical and cellular mechanisms that mediate psychostimulant-induced gene regulation and has also identified the neuronal systems altered by these drugs. Among the most affected brain systems are corticostriatal circuits, which are part of cortico-basal ganglia-cortical loops that mediate motivated behavior. The neurotransmitters critical for such gene regulation are dopamine in interaction with glutamate, while other neurotransmitters (e.g., serotonin) play modulatory roles. This review presents (1) an overview of the main findings on cocaine- and amphetamine-induced gene regulation in corticostriatal circuits in an effort to provide a cellular framework for (2) an assessment of the molecular changes produced by methylphenidate, medical amphetamine (Adderall), and modafinil. The findings lead to the conclusion that protracted exposure to these cognitive enhancers can induce gene regulation effects in corticostriatal circuits that are qualitatively similar to those of cocaine and other amphetamines. These neuronal changes may contribute to the addiction liability of the psychostimulant cognitive enhancers.
    Progress in Neurobiology 10/2012; 100(1). DOI:10.1016/j.pneurobio.2012.10.001 · 9.99 Impact Factor