Chronic amphetamine enhances visual input to and suppresses visual output from the superior colliculus in withdrawal

Turner, Amy C.; Kraev, Igor; Stewart, Michael G.; Stramek, Agata; Overton, Paul G. and Dommett, Eleanor J. (2018). Chronic amphetamine enhances visual input to and suppresses visual output from the superior colliculus in withdrawal. Neuropharmacology, 138 pp. 118–129.



Heightened distractibility is a core symptom of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Effective treatment is normally with chronic orally administered psychostimulants including amphetamine.Treatment prevents worsening of symptoms but the site of therapeutic processes, and their nature, is unknown. Mounting evidence suggests that the superior colliculus (SC) is a key substrate in distractibility and a therapeutic target, so we assessed whether therapeutically-relevant changes are induced in this structure by chronic oral amphetamine. We hypothesized that amphetamine would alter visual responses and morphological measures. Six-week old healthy male rats were treated with oral amphetamine (2, 5 or 10 mg/kg) or a vehicle for one month after which local field potential and multiunit recordings were made from the superficial layers of the SC in response to whole-field light flashes in withdrawal. Rapid Golgi staining was also used to assess dendritic spines, and synaptophysin staining was used to assess synaptic integrity. Chronic amphetamine increased local field potential responses at higher doses, and increased synaptophysin expression, suggesting enhanced visual input involving presynaptic remodelling. No comparable increases in multiunit activity were found suggesting a mphetamine suppresses collicular output activity, counterbalancing the increased input. We also report,for the first time, five different dendritic spine types in the superficial layers and show these to be unaffected by amphetamine, indicating that suppression does not involve gross postsynaptic structural alterations. In conclusion, we suggest that amphetamine produces changes at the collicular level that potentially stabilise the structure and may prevent the worsening of symptoms in disorders like ADHD.

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