Influence of methylphenidate on brain development - An update of recent animal experiments

  • Grund T
  • Lehmann K
  • Bock N
 et al. 
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Methylphenidate (MPH) is the most commonly used drug to treat attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children effectively and safely. In spite of its widespread application throughout one of the most plastic and sensitive phases of brain development, very little is known to date about its long-term effects on brain structure and function. Hence, this short review updates the influence of MPH on brain development, since recent human and animal studies suggest that MPH alters the dopaminergic system with long-term effects beyond the termination of treatment. Animal studies imply that the effects of MPH may depend on the neural responder system: Whereas structural and functional parameters are improved by MPH in animals with psychomotor impairments, they remain unaltered or get worse in healthy controls. While recent behavioural studies do not fully support such a differential effect of MPH in ADHD, the animal studies certainly prompt for further investigation of this issue. Furthermore, the abuse of MPH, when (rarely) intravenously applied, may even impair the maturation of dopaminergic fibres in subcortical brain areas. This argues for careful clinical assessment and diagnostics of ADHD symptomatology not only in conjunction with the prescription of MPH. Hence, one should be assured that MPH is only given to children with clear ADHD symptomatology leading to psychosocial impairment. The animal data suggest that under these conditions MPH is supportive for brain development and the related behaviour in children with ADHD. © 2006 Grund et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

Author-supplied keywords

  • *attention deficit disorder/di [Diagnosis]
  • *attention deficit disorder/dt [Drug Therapy]
  • *brain development
  • *methylphenidate/cr [Drug Concentration]
  • *methylphenidate/dt [Drug Therapy]
  • *methylphenidate/ip [Intraperitoneal Drug Administration]
  • *methylphenidate/iv [Intravenous Drug Administration]
  • *methylphenidate/pd [Pharmacology]
  • *methylphenidate/pk [Pharmacokinetics]
  • *methylphenidate/po [Oral Drug Administration]
  • *methylphenidate/to [Drug Toxicity]
  • brain function
  • cell maturation
  • child
  • clinical assessment
  • dopaminergic nerve cell
  • dopaminergic system
  • drug abuse
  • drug blood level
  • drug efficacy
  • drug indication
  • drug metabolism
  • drug safety
  • human
  • nerve cell plasticity
  • neuroanatomy
  • neurotoxicity
  • neurotransmission
  • nonhuman
  • prescription
  • priority journal
  • psychomotor disorder/dt [Drug Therapy]
  • psychosocial disorder
  • psychostimulant agent/to [Drug Toxicity]
  • review
  • symptomatology

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  • T Grund

  • K Lehmann

  • N Bock

  • A Rothenberger

  • G Teuchert-Noodt

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