Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Russ Brown, PhD

Committee Members

Eric W. Sellers, PhD, Matthew I. Palmatier, PhD, Jon R. Webb, PhD, Rich M. Kostrzewa, PhD


This investigation was an analysis of the interaction of adolescent exposure to methylphenidate (MPH; trade name: Ritalin) on nicotine sensitization and conditioned place preference (CPP) in a rodent model and underlying mechanisms of this effect. Animals were treated IP with 1 mg/kg MPH or saline using a ―school day‖ regimen of five days on, two days off, from postnatal day (P) 28-50. During the final two weeks of MPH treatment, animals were either behaviorally sensitized to nicotine (0.5 mg/kg free base) or saline for 10 days, or conditioned to nicotine or saline using the CPP behavioral paradigm. In addition, three days after behavioral sensitization was complete, animals were analyzed for stress behavior using the forced swim stress behavioral test. In addition, 24 hours after post-test conditioning animals were analyzed for the effect of a clinically relevant dose of pre-exposed MPH (1mg/kg) and nicotine treatment on the expression of BDNF in the nucleus accumbens and dorsal hippocampus. Behavioral results revealed that adolescent pre-exposure to MPH blunted nicotine behavioral sensitization in both male and female rats during the first week of testing. However, MPH enhanced nicotine CPP in both adolescent male and female rats. Interesting, animals administered MPH demonstrated a significantly decreased latency to immobility in the forced swim stress behavioral test. In addition, pre-exposure to a 1 mg/kg dose of MPH appears to have sensitized the BDNF response to nicotine in females as compared to all other groups.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.