Methylphenidate and D2 Receptors

ADHD and Dopamine

A great deal of research has been conducted on dopamine changes in people with ADHD. Some studies have shown that people with the condition have too much dopamine transporter (DAT, for short) in a certain part of the brain called the striatum. DAT transports dopamine away from neurons in the striatum, and having too much DAT may lead to a dopamine deficiency in that part of the brain. Additional studies have suggested that dopamine in the striatum helps people to focus, and a dopamine deficiency (from too much DAT) could be partly responsible for symptoms of ADHD.
 

Methylphenidate, D2 Receptors, and Dopamine

Methylphenidate has been shown to block DAT, reducing the transport of dopamine away from the neurons in the striatum and increasing the level of dopamine. This helps to explain why the drug is effective for treating ADHD. It also helps to explain why it is commonly abused. Studies have shown that by increasing the level of dopamine in the striatum, methylphenidate increases the binding of dopamine to D2 receptors (which are known to be closely related to the reinforcing effects of drugs that are abused).
 

Methylphenidate and D2 Receptors: A Summary

Research has suggested that dopamine (and the D2 receptor in particular) is important for the reinforcing aspects of drug abuse. Research has also shown that dopamine changes in the brain may also be an important factor in ADHD. Because methylphenidate increases dopamine (and binding to D2 receptors) in certain parts of the brain, it is effective for the treatment of ADHD, but is capable of being abused.
 

Methylphenidate HCL

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