Differences in response to amphetamines found between males and females pre-puberty

While some Internet sites advise parents that stimulants have the same effect on children as adults, new research on mice indicates this is not the case. Researchers conclude that further differentiation must be made based on gender.

PITTSBURGH, Pa. -- Amphetamine-like drugs are used to treat attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). These stimulants help people with ADHD learn. They also improve the ability to concentrate, make one less easily distracted, make one less impulsive, and improve ones memory. Children with ADHD are provided drugs like Ritalin upon the recommendation of a physician. Yet, there is little in the research that suggests male and female children may exhibit biological differences in the responses to these stimulants.

Newly released research findings from experiments with mice have established a maturational response to drugs between the known postnatal (up to seven-10 days in rats and mice) and pubertal (around five-six weeks in rats and mice) stages. The findings reveal that differences between males and females in response to drugs begins at an earlier stage than previously believed. During the period after birth, female mice displayed a higher sensitivity to amphetamine well before the onset of puberty, but also well after the early postnatal determination of hormone regulation.

These findings offer a new understanding of male/female differences in brain function and the response to stimuli.

The previous literature focused on two general stages of maturation: (1) The early postnatal "critical period" when sex differences in later hormonal regulation are established (for comparison, mice are born at a stage of brain maturation roughly comparable with a seven-month human fetus) and (2) The time of puberty when sex differences in structure, function, and behavior are manifested.

The authors of the current study, Differential Sex Effects on Exploratory Behavior in Young Mice

Contact: Donna Krupa
American Physiological Society

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