Therapeutic doses of amphetamine or methylphenidate differentially increase synaptic and extracellular dopamine

Wynne K. Schiffer, N. D. Volkow, J. S. Fowler, D. L. Alexoff, J. Logan, S. L. Dewey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


Methylphenidate (MP) and amphetamine (AMP) are first-line treatments for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Although both drugs have similar therapeutic potencies, the stimulatory effect of AMP on extracellular dopamine (ECF DA) is greater than that of MP. We compared extracellular effects directly against synaptic changes. ECF DA was assessed by microdialysis in freely moving rodents and synaptic dopamine (DA) was measured using PET and [ 11C]-raclopride displacement in rodents and baboons. Microdialysis data demonstrated that MP (5.0 mg/kg, i.p.) increased ECF DA 360% ± 31% in striatum, which was significantly less than that by AMP (2.5 mg/kg, i.p.; 1398% ± 272%). This fourfold difference was not reflected by changes in synaptic DA. In fact, rodent PET studies showed no difference in striatal [ 11C]-raclopride binding induced by AMP (2.5 mg/kg, i.p.; 25% ± 4% reduction) compared with that by MP (5.0 mg/kg, i.p.; 21% ± 4% reduction). Primate PET experiments also showed no differences between AMP (0.5 mg/kg, i.V.; 24% ± 4% reduction) and MP (1.0 mg/kg, i.V.; 25% ± 7% reduction) induced changes in [11C]-raclopride binding potential. The similar potencies of MP and AMP to alter synaptic DA, despite their different potencies in raising ECF DA, could reflect their different molecular mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)243-251
Number of pages9
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 15 2006


  • D
  • Imaging
  • Microdialysis
  • PET (positron emission tomography)
  • Receptor
  • Striatum

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