Published in

Springer Nature [academic journals on], Molecular Psychiatry, 2(27), p. 939-946, 2021

DOI: 10.1038/s41380-021-01294-9



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Sex differences in methylphenidate-induced dopamine increases in ventral striatum

This paper is made freely available by the publisher.
This paper is made freely available by the publisher.

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AbstractSex differences in the prevalence of dopamine-related neuropsychiatric diseases and in the sensitivity to dopamine-boosting drugs such as stimulants is well recognized. Here we assessed whether there are sex differences in the brain dopamine system in humans that could contribute to these effects. We analyzed data from two independent [11C]raclopride PET brain imaging studies that measured methylphenidate-induced dopamine increases in the striatum using different routes of administration (Cohort A = oral 60 mg; Cohort B = intravenous 0.5 mg/kg; total n = 95; 65 male, 30 female), in blinded placebo-controlled designs. Females when compared to males reported stronger feeling of “drug effects” and showed significantly greater dopamine release in the ventral striatum (where nucleus accumbens is located) to both oral and intravenous methylphenidate. In contrast, there were no significant differences in methylphenidate-induced increases in dorsal striatum for either oral or intravenous administration nor were there differences in levels of methylphenidate in plasma. The greater dopamine increases with methylphenidate in ventral but not dorsal striatum in females compared to males suggests an enhanced sensitivity specific to the dopamine reward system that might underlie sex differences in the vulnerability to substance use disorders and to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).