Early-life risperidone enhances locomotor responses to amphetamine during adulthood
Antipsychotic drug prescriptions for pediatric populations have increased over the past 20 years, particularly the use of atypical antipsychotic drugs such as risperidone. Most antipsychotic drugs target forebrain dopamine systems, and early-life antipsychotic drug exposure could conceivably reset forebrain neurotransmitter function in a permanent manner that persists into adulthood. This study determined whether chronic risperidone administration during development modified locomotor responses to the dopamine/norepinephrine agonist, D-amphetamine, in adult rats. Thirty-five male Long-Evans rats received an injection of one of four doses of risperidone (vehicle, .3, 1.0, 3.0 mg/kg) each day from postnatal day 14 through 42. Locomotor activity was measured for 1 h on postnatal days 46 and 47, and then for 24 h once a week over the next two weeks. Beginning on postnatal day 75, rats received one of four doses of amphetamine (saline, .3, 1.0, 3.0 mg/kg) once a week for four weeks. Locomotor activity was measured for 27 h after amphetamine injection. Rats administered risperidone early in life demonstrated increased activity during the 1 and 24 h test sessions conducted prior to postnatal day 75. Taking into account baseline group differences, these same rats exhibited significantly more locomotor activity in response to the moderate dose of amphetamine relative to controls. These results suggest that early-life treatment with atypical antipsychotic drugs, like risperidone, permanently alters forebrain catecholamine function and increases sensitivity to drugs that target such function.