Early long-term exposure with caffeine induces cross-sensitization to methylphenidate with involvement of DARPP-32 in adulthood of rats

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Chronic ingestion of caffeine causes dependence and sleep disturbance in children and adolescents. In rodents, the administration of caffeine may produce behavioral cross-sensitization to some psychostimulants, such as dopaminergic psychoactive drugs. Methylphenidate (MPH; Ritalin®) is a psychostimulant used in pediatric- and adult human populations to manage the symptoms associated with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Previous studies have suggested that dopamine- and cAMP-regulated phosphoproteins of 32 kDa (DARPP-32) participate in the manifestation of behavioral activity following ingestion of caffeine or MPH. The aim of the present study was to evaluate whether long-term administration of low doses of caffeine in rodents during their adolescence induces cross-sensitization to MPH challenge in their adulthood and investigate the involvement of DARPP-32 in this model. Young rats (P25) consumed water or caffeine (0.3 g/L; mean consumption was 7.5 mg/day/kg) for 28 days. The caffeine consumption was then suspended for 14 days (washout period) when the animals received saline solution or MPH (1, 2, or 10 mg/kg) (P67) intraperitoneally. The locomotor activity of these rats was assessed using the open-field test, following which the immunocontent of DARPP-32 was evaluated in samples of their prefrontal cortex, striatum, or hippocampus. Rats chronically exposed to caffeine in their adolescent period and to inactive doses of MPH (1 mg/kg) in adulthood showed augmented locomotor activity. The behavioral effect observed was accompanied by increased levels of DARPP-32 in the striatum and prefrontal cortex compared to control groups (saline or caffeine). However, no alteration caused by these treatments was noted in the hippocampus. In conclusion, chronic caffeine exposure induces likely long-term cross-sensitization to MPH in a DARPP-32-dependent pathway. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.




Boeck, C. R., Marques, V. B., Valvassori, S. S., Constantino, L. C., Rosa, D. V. F., Lima, F. F., … Quevedo, J. (2009). Early long-term exposure with caffeine induces cross-sensitization to methylphenidate with involvement of DARPP-32 in adulthood of rats. Neurochemistry International, 55(5), 318–322. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuint.2009.03.015

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