The dopamine D4 receptor is essential for hyperactivity and impaired behavioral inhibition in a mouse model of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder

M. E. Avale, T. L. Falzone, D. M. Gelman, M. J. Low, D. K. Grandy, M. Rubinstein

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    99 Scopus citations


    The dopamine D4 receptor (D4R) is a candidate gene for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) based on genetic studies reporting that particular polymorphisms are present at a higher frequency in affected children. However, the direct participation of the D4R in the onset or progression of ADHD has not been tested. Here, we generated a mouse model with high face value to screen candidate genes for the clinical disorder by neonatal disruption of central dopaminergic pathways with 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA). The lesioned mice exhibited hyperactivity that waned after puberty, paradoxical hypolocomotor responses to amphetamine and methylphenidate, poor behavioral inhibition in approach/avoidance conflict tests and deficits in continuously performed motor coordination tasks. To determine whether the D4R plays a role in these behavioral phenotypes, we performed 6-OHDA lesions in neonatal mice lacking D4Rs (Drd4-/-). Although striatal dopamine contents and tyrosine hydroxylase-positive midbrain neurons were reduced to the same extent in both genotypes, Drd4-/- mice lesioned with 6-OHDA did not develop hyperactivity. Similarly, the D4R antagonist PNU-101387G prevented hyperactivity in wild-type 6-OHDA-lesioned mice. Furthermore, wild-type mice lesioned with 6-OHDA showed an absence of behavioral inhibition when tested in the open field or the elevated plus maze, while their Drd4-/- siblings exhibited normal avoidance for the unprotected areas of these mazes. Together, our results from a combination of genetic and pharmacological approaches demonstrate that D4R signaling is essential for the expression of juvenile hyperactivity and impaired behavioral inhibition, relevant features present in this ADHD-like mouse model.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)718-726
    Number of pages9
    JournalMolecular Psychiatry
    Issue number7
    StatePublished - Jul 2004



    • 6-hydroxydopamine
    • ADHD
    • Amphetamine
    • D4R knockout mouse
    • Methylphenidate

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Molecular Biology
    • Psychiatry and Mental health
    • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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