Journal of Neural Transmission

, Volume 126, Issue 2, pp 201–209 | Cite as

Neurogenesis within the hippocampus after chronic methylphenidate exposure

  • Hannah V. Oakes
  • Carley E. DeVee
  • Brandon Farmer
  • Serena A. Allen
  • Alexis N. Hall
  • Tucker Ensley
  • Kristen Medlock
  • Angela Hanley
  • Brooks B. PondEmail author
Psychiatry and Preclinical Psychiatric Studies - Original Article


Methylphenidate is a psychostimulant used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Neurogenesis occurs throughout adulthood within the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus and can be altered by psychoactive medications; however, the impact of methylphenidate on neurogenesis is not fully understood. We investigated the effects of chronic low (1 mg/kg) and high (10 mg/kg) intraperitoneal doses of methylphenidate on neurogenesis in mouse hippocampus following 28 days and 56 days of treatment. Interestingly, methylphenidate, at both doses, increased neurogenesis. However, if methylphenidate treatment was not continued, the newly generated cells did not survive after 28 days. If treatment was continued, the newly generated neurons survived only in the mice receiving low-dose methylphenidate. To investigate the mechanism for this effect, we examined levels of proteins linked to cell proliferation in the hippocampus, including brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), tropomyosin receptor kinase B (TrkB), and beta-catenin. BDNF or GDNF levels were not significantly different between groups. However, hippocampal VEGF, TrkB, and beta-catenin were significantly increased in mice receiving low-dose methylphenidate for 28 days compared to controls. Interestingly, high-dose methylphenidate significantly decreased beta-catenin after 28 days and decreased VEGF, beta-catenin, and TrkB after 56 days compared to controls. Thus, low-dose methylphenidate appears to increase cell proliferation and cell survival in the hippocampus, and these effects may be mediated by increase in VEGF, TrkB, and beta-catenin. While high dose methylphenidate may initially increase neuronal proliferation, newly generated neurons are unable to survive long-term, possibly due to decrease in VEGF, TrkB and beta-catenin.


Neurogenesis Methylphenidate Hippocampus Dentate gyrus 



The authors would like to thank Dr. Donald Hoover for use of his microscope. This work was supported by the East Tennessee State University Research Development Committee Interdisciplinary program and the National Institutes of Health Grant C06RR0306551.


This work was funded by the East Tennessee State University Research Development Committee Interdisciplinary program and the National Institutes of Health Grant (C06RR0306551).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical approval

All experiments and procedures with animals were performed in accordance with the NIH Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, and protocols were approved by the University Committee on Animal Care (UCAC) at East Tennessee State University.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Bill Gatton College of PharmacyEast Tennessee State UniversityJohnson CityUSA
  2. 2.Department of Pharmacy PracticePresbyterian College School of PharmacyClintonUSA

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