Adderall and Academia: How Amphetamine binds in the Human Norepinephrine Transporter Protein
Recently, there has been a drastic increase in the use of prescription stimulants by healthy individuals in academia – specifically with undergraduate college students. We wanted to answer why this was phenomenon was occurring. Are there cognitive benefits from taking stimulants when there is no medical need and are these benefits why students are drawn to them? Amphetamine or AdderallTM is a popular misused stimulant and serves as an example to explore this issue. The first question to answer was how amphetamine is processed in the brain. Our chosen transporter was the human norepinephrine transporter (hNET) protein. This transporter controls the uptake and reuptake of both dopamine (DA) and norepinephrine (NE). The unbalance of these two neurotransmitters are believed to play a major role in Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). hNET is often a main target in research studies because of this. To analyze the interaction of amphetamine and NET we built a human 3D model through a process known as homology modeling and docked amphetamine, NE, and DA into it. We found that amphetamine successfully binds in the hNET binding cavity. In impaired individuals this means that amphetamine does in fact have positive benefits. However, the effect on healthy individuals is still unknown. Further research needs to be done to determine whether or not healthy individuals experience any benefits before we can answer why undergraduate college students are misusing the drug.