Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressants potentiate methylphenidate (Ritalin)-induced gene regulation in the adolescent striatum

Authors

  • Vincent Van Waes,

    1. Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology, Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science/The Chicago Medical School, 3333 Green Bay Road, North Chicago, IL 60064, USA
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  • Joel Beverley,

    1. Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology, Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science/The Chicago Medical School, 3333 Green Bay Road, North Chicago, IL 60064, USA
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  • Michela Marinelli,

    1. Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology, Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science/The Chicago Medical School, 3333 Green Bay Road, North Chicago, IL 60064, USA
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  • Heinz Steiner

    1. Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology, Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science/The Chicago Medical School, 3333 Green Bay Road, North Chicago, IL 60064, USA
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H. Steiner, PhD, as above.
E-mail: Heinz.Steiner@rosalindfranklin.edu

Abstract

The psychostimulant methylphenidate (Ritalin) is used in conjunction with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) in the treatment of medical conditions such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder with anxiety/depression comorbidity and major depression. Co-exposure also occurs in patients on SSRIs who use psychostimulant ‘cognitive enhancers’. Methylphenidate is a dopamine/norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor that produces altered gene expression in the forebrain; these effects partly mimic gene regulation by cocaine (dopamine/norepinephrine/serotonin reuptake inhibitor). We investigated whether the addition of SSRIs (fluoxetine or citalopram; 5 mg/kg) modified gene regulation by methylphenidate (2–5 mg/kg) in the striatum and cortex of adolescent rats. Our results show that SSRIs potentiate methylphenidate-induced expression of the transcription factor genes zif268 and c-fos in the striatum, rendering these molecular changes more cocaine-like. Present throughout most of the striatum, this potentiation was most robust in its sensorimotor parts. The methylphenidate + SSRI combination also enhanced behavioral stereotypies, consistent with dysfunction in sensorimotor striatal circuits. In so far as such gene regulation is implicated in psychostimulant addiction, our findings suggest that SSRIs may enhance the addiction potential of methylphenidate.

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