Dissociations between cognitive and motor effects of psychostimulants and atomoxetine in hyperactive DAT-KO mice

Rationale: Psychostimulants such as amphetamine and methylphenidate, which target the dopamine transporter (DAT), are the most frequently used drugs for the treatment of hyperactivity and cognitive deficits in humans with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). While psychostimulants can increase activity in healthy subjects, they exert a “paradoxical” calming effect in humans with ADHD as well as in hyperactive mice lacking the dopamine transporter (DATKO mice). However, the mechanism of action of these drugs and their impact on cognition in the absence of DAT remain poorly understood. Objectives This study was conducted to investigate the effects of psychostimulants and noradrenergic and serotonergic drugs on cognition in DAT-KO mice and normal (WT) littermates.

Methods: We used a recently developed behavioral apparatus, the automated H-maze. The H-maze involves the consecutive learning of three different rules: delayed alternation, nonalternation, and reversal tasks.

Results: Treatment of WT animals with the psychostimulants replicated the behavior observed in untreated DAT-KO mice while “paradoxically” restoring cognitive performances in DAT-KO mice. Further investigation of the potential involvement of other monoamine systems in the regulation of cognitive functions showed that the norepinephrine transporter blocker atomoxetine restored cognitive performances in DAT-KO mice without affecting hyperactivity. In contrast, the nonselective serotonin receptor agonist 5CT, which antagonizes hyperactivity in DAT-KO mice, had no effect on cognitive functions.

Conclusions: Taken together, these data allow dissociation of the locomotor and cognitive effects of ADHD drugs and suggest that the combination of DAT-KO mice with the automated H-maze can constitute a powerful experimental paradigm for the preclinical development of therapeutic approaches for ADHD.


Autor:Thomas Del’Guidice, Morgane Lemasson, Adeline Etiévant, Stella Manta, Luiz Alexandre V.
Quelle:Psychopharmacology, 231 (1), 2013, 109-122
Keywords (deutsch):---
Keywords (englisch):DAT-KO mouse, H-maze, Psychostimulants, Atomoxetine