Research with the spontaneously hypertensive rat (SHR) model of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder demonstrated that chronic methylphenidate treatment during adolescence increased cocaine self-administration established during adulthood under a progressive ratio (PR) schedule. Compared to vehicle, chronic atomoxetine treatment during adolescence failed to increase cocaine self-administration under a PR schedule in adult SHR.


We determined if enhanced noradrenergic transmission at α2-adrenergic receptors within prefrontal cortex contributes to this neutral effect of adolescent atomoxetine treatment in adult SHR.


Following treatment from postnatal days 28–55 with atomoxetine (0.3 mg/kg) or vehicle, adult male SHR and control rats from Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) and Wistar (WIS) strains were trained to self-administer 0.3 mg/kg cocaine. Self-administration performance was evaluated under a PR schedule of cocaine delivery following infusion of the α2-adrenergic receptor antagonist idazoxan (0 and 10–56 μg/side) directly into prelimbic cortex.


Adult SHR attained higher PR break points and had greater numbers of active lever responses and infusions than WKY and WIS. Idazoxan dose-dependently increased PR break points and active lever responses in SHR following adolescent atomoxetine vs. vehicle treatment. Behavioral changes were negligible after idazoxan pretreatment in SHR following adolescent vehicle or in WKY and WIS following adolescent atomoxetine or vehicle.


α2-Adrenergic receptor blockade in prelimbic cortex of SHR masked the expected neutral effect of adolescent atomoxetine on adult cocaine self-administration behavior. Moreover, greater efficacy of acute idazoxan challenge in adult SHR after adolescent atomoxetine relative to vehicle is consistent with the idea that chronic atomoxetine may downregulate presynaptic α2A-adrenergic autoreceptors in SHR.

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Published in Psychopharmacology, v. 234, issue 19, p. 2897-2909.

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

The copyright holder has granted the permission for posting the article here.

This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in Psychopharmacology. The final authenticated version is available online at: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-017-4681-y.

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National Institutes of Health grant DA011716.