Aung Aung Kywe Moe
Queensland Brain Institute, University of Queensland
Abstract: Over the past twenty years, antipsychotic drugs (APDs) are being prescribed to adolescents increasingly for a variety of behavioural symptoms and disorders. Adolescence is an important postnatal period in which major remodelling processes occur in multiple neural systems of the brain. Treatment with APDs in adolescents can potentially alter these processes and neural function at maturity. However, currently available scientific knowledge of the effects of APDs on the adolescent brain is rather limited despite a notable increase in prescription of these drugs.
In my PhD, I examined the outcomes of chronic risperidone treatment (the APD most commonly prescribed to adolescents) in adolescent rats and compared the findings with those in adult rats treated with the same regimen. I used behavioural tests namely a) conditioned avoidance response (CAR) and b) catalepsy tests, which are predictive of APD potential, along with clinically relevant neuroimaging assessments and end-point neurochemical assays. I identified short- and long-term behavioural changes in CAR and catalepsy and neurochemical alterations in dopaminergic and serotonergic systems which were selective to adolescent risperidone treatment. These findings provide supporting evidence that the response to risperidone in adolescents differs markedly from that seen in adults. My findings therefore indicate that adolescent APD prescription practices cannot be extrapolated from adult findings or guidelines and a more thorough understanding of neurobiological consequences of adolescent APD prescription is required.