Novel non-stimulants rescue hyperactive phenotype in an adgrl3.1 mutant zebrafish model of ADHD

Hildur Sóley Sveinsdóttir, Christian Christensen, Haraldur Þorsteinsson, Perrine Lavalou, Matthew O. Parker, Alena Shkumatava, William H.J. Norton, Emile Andriambeloson, Stéphanie Wagner, Karl Ægir Karlsson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


ADHD is a highly prevalent neurodevelopmental disorder. The first-line therapeutic for ADHD, methylphenidate, can cause serious side effects including weight loss, insomnia, and hypertension. Therefore, the development of non-stimulant-based therapeutics has been prioritized. However, many of these also cause other effects, most notably somnolence. Here, we have used a uniquely powerful genetic model and unbiased drug screen to identify novel ADHD non-stimulant therapeutics. We first found that adgrl3.1 null (adgrl3.1−/−) zebrafish larvae showed a robust hyperactive phenotype. Although the hyperactivity was rescued by three ADHD non-stimulant therapeutics, all interfered significantly with sleep. Second, we used wild-type zebrafish larvae to characterize a simple behavioral phenotype generated by atomoxetine and screened the 1200 compound Prestwick Chemical Library® for a matching behavioral profile resulting in 67 hits. These hits were re-assayed in the adgrl3.1−/−. Using the previously identified non-stimulants as a positive control, we identified four compounds that matched the effect of atomoxetine: aceclofenac, amlodipine, doxazosin, and moxonidine. We additionally demonstrated cognitive effects of moxonidine in mice using a T-maze spontaneous alternation task. Moxonidine, has high affinity for imidazoline 1 receptors. We, therefore, assayed a pure imidazoline 1 agonist, LNP599, which generated an effect closely matching other non-stimulant ADHD therapeutics suggesting a role for this receptor system in ADHD. In summary, we introduce a genetic model of ADHD in zebrafish and identify five putative therapeutics. The findings offer a novel tool for understanding the neural circuits of ADHD, suggest a novel mechanism for its etiology, and identify novel therapeutics.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 18 Nov 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The study was funded in full by 3Z.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).


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