Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Pharmaceutical Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Linda P. Dwoskin


Effects of pharmacotherapies for Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) on cocaine abuse liability in ADHD are not understood. Spontaneously Hypertensive Rats (SHR), an ADHD model, exhibited greater cocaine self-administration than control Wistar-Kyoto and Wistar rats. Methylphenidate, but not atomoxetine during adolescence enhanced cocaine self-administration in adult SHRs compared to controls. The mesocortical dopaminergic system, including medial prefrontal (mPFC) and orbitofrontal (OFC) cortices, is important for ADHD and cocaine addiction. Dopamine and norepinephrine transporter (DAT and NET) are molecular targets for methylphenidate, atomoxetine and cocaine action.

In the current studies, SHR, Wistar-Kyoto and Wistar were administered methylphenidate (1.5 mg/kg/day, p.o.), atomoxetine (0.3 mg/kg/day, i.p.) or vehicle during adolescence (postnatal day 28-55). During adulthood (>77 days), DAT and NET functions in mPFC and OFC were determined as neurochemical mechanisms and locomotor sensitization to cocaine, and impulsivity under differential reinforcement of low rates 30-second (DRL30) schedule were evaluated as behavioral mechanisms associated with greater cocaine self-administration in methylphenidate-treated SHRs.

Maximal velocity of [3H]dopamine uptake (Vmax) by DAT and DAT cellular distribution in mPFC and OFC did not differ between vehicle-control, adult SHR, Wistar-Kyoto and Wistar. Methylphenidate increased DAT Vmax, but not cell-surface expression, in SHR mPFC. In contrast, atomoxetine decreased Vmax and cell-surface expression in SHR OFC. Compared to control strains, norepinephrine uptake by NET in the OFC was increased in vehicle-administered SHR; methylphenidate during adolescence normalized NET function in SHR OFC. Locomotor sensitization was greater in SHR compared to control, and was not altered by methylphenidate. Under DRL30, methylphenidate increased burst responses in adult SHR compared to vehicle control as well as methylphenidate-treated Wistar-Kyoto and Wistar, indicating increased impulsivity.

Increased OFC NET function, increased impulsivity and cocaine sensitivity may be the neurobehavioral mechanisms associated with the increased cocaine self-administration in SHR. Increased mPFC DAT function may underlie the enhanced impulsivity and cocaine self-administration in SHR administered methylphenidate during adolescence. Decreased OFC DAT function from atomoxetine-treated SHR may explain the reduced cocaine self-administration relative to methylphenidate. Thus, methylphenidate during adolescence in ADHD may increase risk for cocaine abuse, while atomoxetine may represent a therapeutic alternative for at-risk adolescents with ADHD.