Prescription of antipsychotic drugs (APDs) to children has substantially increased in recent years. Whilst current investigations into potential long-term effects have uncovered some alterations to adult behaviours, further investigations into potential changes to neurotransmitter systems are required. The current study investigated potential long-term changes to the adult dopamine (DA) system following aripiprazole, olanzapine and risperidone treatment in female and male juvenile rats. Levels of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), phosphorylated-TH (p-TH), dopamine active transporter (DAT), and D1
receptors were measured via Western blot and/or receptor autoradiography. Aripiprazole decreased TH and D1
receptor levels in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) and p-TH levels in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) of females, whilst TH levels decreased in the PFC of males. Olanzapine decreased PFC p-TH levels and increased D2
receptor expression in the PFC and nucleus accumbens (NAc) in females only. Additionally, risperidone treatment increased D1
receptor levels in the hippocampus of females, whilst, in males, p-TH levels increased in the PFC and hippocampus, D1
receptor expression decreased in the NAc, and DAT levels decreased in the caudate putamen (CPu), and elevated in the VTA. These results suggest that early treatment with various APDs can cause different long-term alterations in the adult brain, across both treatment groups and genders.
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