Methylphenidate modulates the locus ceruleus neuronal activity in freely behaving rat.

Research paper by Bin B Tang, Nachum N Dafny

Indexed on: 22 Sep '12Published on: 22 Sep '12Published in: European Journal of Pharmacology


The electrophysiological properties of the locus coeruleus (LC) neurons in response to acute and chronic administration of methylphenidate (MPD) were investigated. The extracellular LC neuronal activities were recorded from non-anesthetized, freely behaving rats previously implanted bilaterally with permanent semi microelectrodes. The main findings were: (1) On experimental day 1 (ED1), 87% (94/108) of LC units significantly changed their firing rate after initial (acute) MPD (2.5mg/kg, i.p.) administration. The majority of the responsive units (80%, 75/94) increased their firing rate; (2) Daily MPD (2.5mg/kg) injection was given on ED2 through ED6 followed by 3 washout days (ED7 to 9). On ED10, all LC units exhibited a significant change of their baseline activity compared to their baseline activity on ED1; (3) MPD rechallenge on ED10 elicits 94% (101/108) of LC units significantly changed their firing rate; the majority of them (78%, 79/101) increased their firing rate; (4) The effect of rechallenge MPD administration on ED10 were compared to the effect of initial MPD on ED1, 98% of the LC units exhibited a significant change in their firing rate. 41% (43/106) of them exhibited a significant increase in their firing rate while 59% (63/106) units significantly decreased their firing rate which can be interpreted as electrophysiological sensitization or tolerance respectively. In conclusion, the majority of LC neurons significantly increased their firing rate after acute and chronic MPD administration. This data demonstrated that enhanced LC neuronal activities play important role in the effect of MPD.