Based on animal research several authors have warned that the application of methylphenidate, the first-line drug for the treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), might have neurotoxic effects potentially harming the brain. We investigated whether methylphenidate application, over a 1-year period, results in cerebral volume decrease.Methods
We acquired structural MRIs in a double-blind study comparing methylphenidate to placebo. Global and regional brain volumes were analyzed at baseline, after 3 months and after 12 months using diffeomorphic anatomic registration through exponentiated lie algebra.Results
We included 131 adult patients with ADHD into the baseline sample, 98 into the 3-month sample (54 in the methylphenidate cohort and 44 in the placebo cohort) and 76 into the 1-year sample (37 in the methylphenidate cohort and 29 in the placebo cohort). Methylphenidate intake compared with placebo did not lead to any detectable cerebral volume loss; there was a trend toward bilateral cerebellar grey matter increase.Limitations
Detecting possible neurotoxic effects of methylphenidate might require a longer observation period.Conclusion
There is no evidence of grey matter volume loss after 1 year of methylphenidate treatment in adult patients with ADHD.