Exposure to methylphenidate during peri-adolescence affects endocrine functioning and sexual behavior in female Long-Evans rats

Fay A. Guarraci, Caroline Holifield, Jessica Morales-Valenzuela, Kasera Greene, Jeanette Brown, Rebecca Lopez, Christina Crandall, Nicole Gibbs, Rebekah Vela, Melissa Y. Delgado, Russell J. Frohardt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The present study was designed to test the effects of methylphenidate (MPH) exposure on the maturation of endocrine functioning and sexual behavior. Female rat pups received either MPH (2.0 mg/kg, i.p.) or saline twice daily between postnatal days 20-35. This period of exposure represents the time just prior to puberty as well as puberty onset. Approximately five weeks after the last injection of MPH or saline, female subjects were hormone-primed and tested during their first sexual experience. Subjects were given the choice to interact with a sexually active male or a sexually receptive female rat (i.e., the partner-preference test). The partner-preference paradigm allows us to assess multiple aspects of female sexual behavior. MPH exposure during peri-adolescence delayed puberty and, when mated for the first time, affected sexual behavior (e.g., increased time spent with the male stimulus and decreased the likelihood of leaving after mounts) during the test of partner preference. When monitoring estrous cyclicity, female subjects treated with MPH during peri-adolescence frequently experienced irregular estrous cycles. The results of the present study suggest that chronic exposure to a therapeutic dose of MPH around the onset of puberty alters long-term endocrine functioning, but with hormone priming, increases sensitivity to sexual stimuli.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36-41
Number of pages6
JournalPharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior
StatePublished - Mar 2016


  • Acute
  • Adolescence
  • Chronic
  • Locomotion
  • Partner preference
  • Psychomotor stimulants
  • Ritalin
  • Sexual motivation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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