The Role of Dopamine D1 and D2 Receptors in Adolescent Methylphenidate Conditioned Preference: Sex Differences and BDNF

Document Type


Publication Date



The purpose was to analyze the role of dopamine D1 and D2 receptors in conditioned place preference (CPP) of a relatively high dose (5 mg/kg) of methylphenidate (MPH) in adolescent male and female rats, as well as the role of these receptors in the effects of MPH on brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). The primary mechanism of MPH in the brain is the blockade of the dopamine transporter, yielding an increase of dopamine in the synaptic cleft and is the basis for the rewarding properties of MPH. An initial preference given on postnatal day (P)32 yielded no preference for any context in a three-chambered shuttle box with removable dividers, thus, a biased procedure was used. Conditioning began the day after the initial preference test on P33. On conditioning trials, animals were first administered saline or their respective antagonist (D1 antagonist: 0.1 or 0.2 mg/kg SCH-23390; D2 antagonist: 0.01 or 0.03 mg/kg Eticlopride HCl), followed by methylphenidate (MPH; 5mg/kg). Approximately 10 min after MPH administration, rats were placed into the paired context for a 10 min trial. The choice of the paired context was balanced across animals. In a separate session, all animals received saline in the opposing context. One day post-conditioning on P38, a preference test was administered with dividers removed. Preference was determined through the amount of time spent in the paired context as compared to time spent in the unpaired context on the post-conditioning preference test. One day following the preference test on P39, brain tissue was removed, and nucleus accumbens and striatum analyzed for BDNF. Results showed that MPH produced an increased preference on the post-conditioning preference test that was blocked by either dose of SCH-23390, but was not affected by either dose of eticlopride. Additionally, the higher dose of SCH-23390 resulted in a conditioned place aversion in males, which may be due to the increased presence of dopamine D1 receptors in adolescent males. MPH produced a robust significant increase in BDNF in both nucleus accumbens and striatum, and this increase was alleviated by SCH-23390, but the effect on BDNF is still to be analyzed relative to D2 antagonism. These results show that MPH results in a conditioned place preference in adolescent male and female rats, and these effects appear to be mediated by the dopamine D1 receptor. Further, MPH results in a significant increase of BDNF in drug reward areas of the brain, which has implications towards synaptic plasticity in these regions in response to MPH.


Washington, DC

Copyright Statement

The author(s) retain copyright to the abstract. The abstract was originally published by the Society of Neuroscience.

This document is currently not available here.