Differential Behavioral and Biochemical Responses to Caffeine in Male and Female Rats from a Validated Model of Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder

  • Fernanda Nunes
  • Daniela Pochmann
  • Amanda Staldoni Almeida
  • Daniela Melo Marques
  • Lisiane de Oliveira Porciúncula


Epidemiological studies suggest sex differences in attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptomatology. The potential benefits of caffeine have been reported in the management of ADHD, but its effects were not properly addressed with respect to sex differences. The present study examined the effects of caffeine (0.3 g/L) administered since childhood in the behavior and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and its related proteins in both sexes of a rat model of ADHD (spontaneously hypertensive rats—SHR). Hyperlocomotion, recognition, and spatial memory disturbances were observed in adolescent SHR rats from both sexes. However, females showed lack of habituation and worsened spatial memory. Although caffeine was effective against recognition memory impairment in both sexes, spatial memory was recovered only in female SHR rats. Besides, female SHR rats showed exacerbated hyperlocomotion after caffeine treatment. SHR rats from both sexes presented increases in the BDNF, truncated and phospho-TrkB receptors and also phospho-CREB levels in the hippocampus. Caffeine normalized BDNF in males and truncated TrkB receptor at both sexes. These findings provide insight into the potential of caffeine against fully cognitive impairment displayed by females in the ADHD model. Besides, our data revealed that caffeine intake since childhood attenuated behavioral alterations in the ADHD model associated with changes in BDNF and TrkB receptors in the hippocampus.


ADHD Caffeine BDNF Sex differences Adolescence 



The authors acknowledge Brazilian funding agencies (CAPES, CNPq, FAPERGS).

Author’s Contributions

F.N., D.P., A.S.A, and D.M.M. performed the experiments and revised the manuscript. F.N and L.O.P designed the study, analyzed and interpreted data, and wrote the manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fernanda Nunes
    • 1
  • Daniela Pochmann
    • 1
  • Amanda Staldoni Almeida
    • 1
  • Daniela Melo Marques
  • Lisiane de Oliveira Porciúncula
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of Studies on the Purinergic System, Department of Biochemistry, Health and Basic Sciences InstituteFederal University of Rio Grande do SulPorto AlegreBrazil

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