Recovery from behavior and developmental effects of chronic oral methylphenidate following an abstinence period

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Chronic oral methylphenidate (MP) exposure in rats is associated with numerous developmental and behavioral consequences. The present study investigated the persistence of the effects of chronic oral MP exposure after abstinence from MP use. Male and female rats were exposed to daily orally self-administered water, low dose MP (LD), or high dose (HD) MP for 13 weeks, followed by a 4-week abstinence period. Fluid, food consumption and bodyweights were monitored and animals were tested for locomotor activity, anxiety- and depressive-like symptoms, learning and memory, and social behavior during both the treatment and abstinence phases of the experiment. During treatment, MP attenuated bodyweight regardless of sex, but increased food and fluid consumption in females and males by 20.7% and 30.1%, respectively. MP also increased locomotor activity in both males and females observed as increased distance travelled in an open field. (59.1% and 95.9%, respectively) and increased locomotor activity in the home cage over a 24-hour circadian cycle (45.5% and 63.0%). Additionally, MP exerted an anxiolytic effect observed as increased time spent in the open arms of an elevated plus maze (31.1% in HD males, 59.2% in HD females), and an increased latency to immobility in a forced swim test (330% in HD males, 418% in HD females). The effects of MP (bodyweight, consumption, locomotion, anxiolytic, and anti-depressive) were, almost without exception, eliminated during the abstinence period. MP had no impact on learning and memory performance as measured by a T-maze, or social behavior during treatment. These findings suggest that the behavioral consequences of chronic oral MP treatment in our preclinical model are reversible in rats following an abstinence period from use of the drug.

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