Journal of Neural Transmission

, Volume 113, Issue 12, pp 1927–1934 | Cite as

Methylphenidate exerts no neurotoxic, but neuroprotective effects in vitro

  • A. G. Ludolph
  • U. Schaz
  • A. Storch
  • S. Liebau
  • J. M. Fegert
  • T. M. Boeckers


Methylphenidate (MPH) is the most common used drug in child and adolescent psychiatry. Despite of this fact, however, little is known about its exact pharmacological mechanisms.

Here we investigated the toxic effects of MPH in vitro in human embryonic kidney (HEK-293) cells stably expressing the human dopamine transporter (HEK-hDAT cells) and in cultured rat embryonic (E14.5) mesencephalic cultures. MPH alone (up to 1 mM) affected neither the growth of HEK-hDAT cells nor the survival of dopaminergic (DA) neurons in primary cultures after treatment up to 72 h. No differences in neuronal arborisation or in the density of synapses were detected. 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium (MPP+) showed no toxic effect in HEK-293 cells, but had significant toxic effects in HEK-hDAT cells and DA neurons. MPH (1 µM – 1 mM) dose-dependently reduced this cytotoxicity in HEK-hDAT cells and primary mesencephalic DA neurons.

The presented results show that application of MPH alone does not have any toxic effect on DA cells in vitro. The neurotoxic effects of MPP+ could be significantly reduced by co-application of MPH, an effect that is most likely explained by MPH blocking the DAT.

Keywords: Methylphenidate, toxicity, neuroprotection, MPP+, in vitro study, mesencephalic neurons, dopaminergic system 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. G. Ludolph
    • 1
  • U. Schaz
    • 2
  • A. Storch
    • 3
  • S. Liebau
    • 2
  • J. M. Fegert
    • 1
  • T. M. Boeckers
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Child and Adolescent PsychiatryUniversity of UlmUlmGermany
  2. 2.Department of Anatomy and Cell BiologyUniversity of UlmUlmGermany
  3. 3.Department of NeurologyUniversity of DresdenDresdenGermany

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