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A Comprehensive In Vitro Screening of d-, l-, and dlthreo- Methylphenidate: An Exploratory Study

A Comprehensive In Vitro Screening of d-, l-, and dlthreo- Methylphenidate: An Exploratory Study

  1. Wanderer
    Volume 16, Number 6, 2006
    Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.
    Pp. 687–698

    John S. Markowitz, Pharm.D.,1 C. Lindsay DeVane, Pharm.D.,2 Linda K. Pestreich,3
    Kennerly S. Patrick, Ph.D.,1 and Rafael Muniz, M.D.3


    dl-Methylphenidate (MPH) has been widely used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) for the last half century. It had been exclusively available in the racemic form, i.e., a 50:50 mixture of d- and l-isomers. However, a single enantiomer formulation, d-MPH (dexmethylphenidate), became available for general clinical use in 2002. For this reason, the intrinsic pharmacological differences in the effects of d- and l-MPH have recently come under intense investigation. The primary therapeutic effects of MPH are generally recognized to reside in the d-isomer. The present investigation provides quantitative values for a broad range of receptor-level interactions of the individual MPH isomers to better characterize better the distinction between dl-MPH versus d-MPH versus l-MPH as it relates to binding affinity at sites associated with relevant central nervous system (CNS) pharmacology, as well as peripheral physiology. Overall, there were few differences in binding affinities between d-MPH and the racemate whereas there were more apparent differences between d-MPH and l-MPH. d-MPH exhibited prominent affinity at the norepinephrine transporter (NET) site, even exceeding such affinity at the dopamine transporter (DAT). These results further demonstrate that affinity for catecholaminergic sites largely resides in the d-MPH isomer. Although binding affinity was not demonstrable at the serotonin (5-HT) transporter site (SERT), novel findings of the study included affinity for the 5-HT1A and 5-HT2B receptor sites for both d- and l-MPH, with d-MPH exerting by far the most predominant effects at these sites. Thus, the emerging data of favorable therapeutic effects of ADHD treatment with d-MPH (and dl-MPH) may be underpinned by affinity and potential pharmacologic effects at NET and DAT sites, as well as sites relevant to serotonergic neurotransmission that may modulate mood, cognition, and motor behavior. However, the present exploratory studies reflect receptor binding affinities only. The specific pharmacological activities (i.e., agonism vs. antagonism) of these compounds await further exploration.