Proposed Animal Model of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

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Dopamine (DA) neurons are implicated in the hyperlocomotion of neonatal 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA)-lesioned rats, an animal model of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Because serotonin (5-HT) neurons mediate some DA agonist effects, we investigated the possible role of 5-HT neurons on locomotor activity. Rats were treated at 3 days after birth with vehicle or 6-OHDA (134 μg ICV; desipramine pretreatment, 20 mg/kg IP, 1 h), and at 10 weeks with vehicle or 5,7-dihydroxytryptamine (5,7-DHT; 75 μg ICV; pretreatment with desipramine and pargyline, 75 mg/kg IP, 30 min), to destroy DA and/or 5-HT fibers. Intense spontaneous hyperlocomotor activity was produced in rats lesioned with both 6-OHDA and 5,7-DHT. Locomotor time in this group was 550 ± 17 s in a 600 s session, vs. 127 ± 13 s in the 6-OHDA group and <75 s in 5,7-DHT and intact control groups (p < 0.001). Oral activity dose-effect curves established that 5,7-DHT attenuated DA D1 receptor supersensitivity and further sensitized 5-HT2c receptors. Acute treatment with dextroamphetamine (0.25 mg/kg SC) reduced locomotor time in 6-OHDA+5,7-DHT-lesioned rats to 76 ± 37 s (p < 0.001). Striatal DA was reduced by 99% and 5-HT was reduced by 30% (vs. 6-OHDA group). Because combined 6-OHDA (to neonates) and 5,7-DHT (to adults) lesions produce intense hyperlocomotion that is attenuated by amphetamine, we propose this as a new animal model of ADHD. The findings suggest that hyperactivity in ADHD may be due to injury or impairment of both DA and 5-HT neurons.