The contribution of comparative studies in inbred strains of mice to the understanding of the hyperactive phenotype

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a highly prevalent childhood psychiatric disorder characterized by impaired attention, excessive motor activity and impulsivity. Converging evidence, suggests a primary role of disturbances in brain dopamine (DA) transmission and a role of genetic factors in its pathology. Inbred provide a well-defined and stable genotype for analysis. C57BL/6 (C57) and DBA/2 (DBA) mice are amongst the most studied inbred strains in the behavioral pharmacology of DA, and they differ in several parameters of the DA system that relate directly to behavioral differences. These strains also exhibit several qualitatively different behavior patterns that rely on separate DA networks (e.g. mesoaccumbens vs. nigrostriatal) and on different modes of inheritance. C57 mice are good learners in most tasks also involving associative learning but are totally unable to learn active avoidance although being very active. Moreover, C57 mice show greater novelty-induced locomotor activity than DBA, which is modulated strongly by DA neurons in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) region. Pharmacological studies also indicate a facilitated mesoaccumbens DA transmission in C57 mice when compared to DBAs. Increased density of D2 autoreceptors located on VTA neurons, and lower D2 postsynaptic receptors in the NAS were observed in DBA relative to C57. Activation of D2 autoreceptors inhibits impluse flow, synthesis, and release rates of DA neurons. As would be predicted from their higher D2 autoreceptor: DBA compared to C57 mice show reduced DA synthesis and release within the mesoaccumbens DA system when challenged with DA direct agonists. However, DBA mice are by fare more susceptible than C57s to stress-induced enhanced mesoaccumbens DA release and in stressful situation, they show sustained active behavioral responses whilst C57 adopt extremely passive responses (behavioral despair). Finally, chronic or repeated stress promote opposite adaptation of VTA DA autoreceptors in the two strains and render the hypoactive DBAs as active as the C57 mice. These results indicate that a complex interaction between genetic and environmental factors controls, mesoaccumbens DA functioning and hyperactive phenotype.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-109
Number of pages7
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 10 2002


  • Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • C57 mice
  • DBA mice
  • Dopamine
  • Dopamine systems
  • Genetic models

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'The contribution of comparative studies in inbred strains of mice to the understanding of the hyperactive phenotype'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this