Adolescence is characterized by major remodelling processes in the brain. Use of antipsychotic drugs (APDs) in adolescents has increased dramatically in the last 20 years; however, our understanding of the neurobiological consequences of APD treatment on the adolescent brain has not kept the same pace and significant concerns have been raised. In this review, we examined currently available preclinical studies of the effects of APDs on the adolescent brain. In animal models of neuropsychiatric disorders, adolescent APD treatment appears to be protective against selected structural, behavioural and neurochemical phenotypes. In "neurodevelopmentally normal" adolescent animals, a range of short- and long-term alterations in behaviour and neurochemistry have been reported. In particular, the adolescent brain appears to be sensitive to long-term locomotor/reward effects of chronic atypical APDs in contrast with the outcomes in adults. Long-lasting changes in dopaminergic, glutamatergic and gamma-amino butyric acid-ergic systems induced by adolescent APD administration have been observed in the nucleus accumbens. A detailed examination of other potential target regions such as striatum, prefrontal cortex and ventral tegmental area is still required. Through identification of specific neural pathways targeted by adolescent APD treatment, future studies will expand the current knowledge on long-term neural outcomes which are of translational value.
- animal models
- antipsychotic drugs