REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202005.0510.v1
Subject: Medicine And Pharmacology, Pharmacology And Toxicology Keywords: psychedelics; neuroimaging; consciousness
Online: 31 May 2020 (20:53:59 CEST)
Serotonergic psychedelics are known to elicit changes in conscious awareness, including perception of the environment and the self, as well as in mood, emotion and different aspects of cognition (Nichols, 2016). The effect of these compounds is complex and resists a straightforward classification that is useful for other drugs, such as “stimulants” or “sedatives”. While the effects of certain psychedelics do have a stimulant dimension, their defining characteristic is the capacity to temporarily induce a state of altered consciousness. Because of this, the study of psychedelics cannot be based only on animal models, since humans are alone in their capacity to explicitly report the contents of their conscious awareness. Psychedelic research with healthy human subjects necessitates techniques for the non-invasive recording of brain activity or its physiological and metabolic correlates. These techniques are referred to as “neuroimaging”, and here we review their application in the study of the neural correlates of altered consciousness induced by serotonergic psychedelics.
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202106.0682.v1
Subject: Medicine And Pharmacology, Immunology And Allergy Keywords: psilocybin; psilocin; psychedelics; magic mushrooms
Online: 28 June 2021 (16:00:22 CEST)
Psychedelics extracted by plants have been used in religious, spiritual and mystic practices for millennia. In 1957, Dr. Hofmann have identified and synthesized the prodrug psilocybin, a substance present in more than 200 species of psychedelic mushrooms. Although the limitations related to the scientific design of many studies, clinical observations performed during the 1950s and the 1960s have shown a potential therapeutic effect of psilocybin in patients affected by depressive symptoms, anxiety, and conversion disorder. Psilocybin was classed as a schedule I substance in 1970, but the fascination for psychedelics remained almost unchanged over time promoting a new scientific interest starting from the 1990s. Recent studies provided further evidences supporting the suggestive hypothesis of a therapeutic use of psilocybin for treating various psychiatric disorders including: pathological anxiety, mood depressive disorder and addiction.
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202111.0201.v1
Subject: Medicine And Pharmacology, Pharmacology And Toxicology Keywords: psychedelics; language; consciousness; cognition; pharmacology; semantics
Online: 10 November 2021 (09:45:20 CET)
Psychedelics are drugs capable of eliciting profound alterations in the subjective experience of the users, sometimes with long-lasting consequences. Because of this, psychedelic research tends to focus on human subjects, given their capacity to construct detailed narratives about the contents of their consciousness experiences. In spite of its relevance, the interaction between serotonergic psychedelics and language production is comparatively understudied in the recent literature. This review is focused on two aspects of this interaction: how the acute effects of psychedelic drugs impact on speech organization regardless of its semantic content, and how to characterize the subjective effects of psychedelic drugs by analyzing the semantic content of written retrospective reports. We show that the computational characterization of language production is an emergent powerful tool to predict the therapeutic outcome of individual experiences, relate the effects elicited by psychedelics with those associated with other altered states of consciousness, draw comparisons between the psychedelic state and the symptomatology of certain psychiatric disorders, and investigate the neurochemical profile and mechanism of action of different psychedelic drugs. We conclude that researchers studying psychedelics can considerably expand the range of their potential scientific conclusions by analyzing brief interviews obtained before, during and after the acute effects. Finally, we list a series of questions and open problems that should be addressed to further consolidate this approach.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints201901.0249.v1
Subject: Medicine And Pharmacology, Psychiatry And Mental Health Keywords: mental health; psychedelics; psychopharmacology; psychiatry; innovative
Online: 24 January 2019 (08:46:50 CET)
The current crisis in psychopharmacology has a long history and needs to be addressed with innovative and effective strategies. Here we discuss some of the roots of this crisis and suggest that the therapeutic use of psychedelic drugs represents a promising and integrative treatment with enduring effects for mental health problems.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202011.0742.v1
Subject: Medicine And Pharmacology, Immunology And Allergy Keywords: Psilocybin; psychedelics; neuroplasticity; SV2A; 5-HT2A; depression; autoradiography; functional-selectivity
Online: 30 November 2020 (16:30:03 CET)
A single dose of psilocybin, a psychedelic and serotonin 2A receptor (5-HT2AR) agonist, may be associated with antidepressant effects. The mechanism behind its antidepressive action is unknown but could be linked to increased synaptogenesis and down-regulation of cerebral 5-HT2AR. Here, we investigate if a single psychedelic dose of psilocybin changes synaptic vesicle protein 2A (SV2A) and 5-HT2AR density in the pig brain. Twenty-four awake pigs received either 0.08 mg/kg psilocybin or saline intravenously. Twelve pigs (n=6/intervention) were euthanized one day post-injection, while the remaining twelve pigs were euthanized seven days post-injection (n=6/intervention). We performed autoradiography on hippocampus and prefrontal cortex (PFC) sections with [3H]UCB-J (SV2A), [3H]MDL100907 (5-HT2AR antagonist) and [3H]Cimbi-36 (5-HT2AR agonist). One day post psilocybin injection, we observed 4.4% higher hippocampal SV2A density and lowered hippocampal and PFC 5-HT2AR density (-15.21% to -50.19%). These differences were statistically significant in the hippocampus for all radioligands and in PFC for [3H]Cimbi-36 only. Seven days post-intervention, there was still significantly higher SV2A density in hippocampus (+9.24%) and PFC (+6.1%) whereas there were no longer any differences in 5-HT2AR density. Our findings suggest that psilocybin’s antidepressive actions are linked to increased persistent synaptogenesis and possibly also to an acute decrease in 5-HT2AR density.
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202202.0156.v2
Subject: Medicine And Pharmacology, Psychiatry And Mental Health Keywords: esketamine; ketamine; ketamine assisted psychotherapy; eating disorder; anorexia nervosa; bulimia nervosa; binge eating disorder; pharmacology; psychedelics; treatment
Online: 7 March 2022 (08:34:11 CET)
Eating disorders (EDs) are serious, life-threatening psychiatric conditions associated with physical and psychosocial impairments, as well as high morbidity and mortality. Given the chronic refractory nature of EDs and the paucity of evidence-based treatments, there is a pressing need to identify novel approaches for this population. The noncompetitive N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAr) antagonist, ketamine, has recently been approved for treatment-resistant depression, exerting rapid and robust antidepressant effects. It is now being investigated for several new indications, including obsessive-compulsive, post-traumatic, and substance use disorder; and shows transdiagnostic potential for EDs, particularly among clinical non-responders. As such, the aim of this review is to examine contemporary findings on the treatment of EDs with ketamine, whether used as a primary, adjunctive, or combination psychopharmacotherapy. Avenues for future research are also discussed. Overall, results are encouraging and point to therapeutic value, yet are limited to case series and reports on anorexia nervosa. Further empirical work is thus needed to explore ketamine efficacy across ED subgroups; establish safety profiles and optimize dosing; and develop theory-driven, targeted treatment strategies at the individual patient level.
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202308.0821.v1
Subject: Medicine And Pharmacology, Medicine And Pharmacology Keywords: ligand-free receptor signaling; inverse agonist; neutral antagonist; μ opioid receptor; opioid dependence; 6β-naltrexol; psychedelics; LSD; 5-HT2A; GHSR
Online: 10 August 2023 (09:48:03 CEST)
G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are ubiquitous sensors and regulators of cellular functions. Each GPCR exists in complex aggregates with multiple resting and active conformations. Designed to detect weak stimuli, GPCRs can also activate spontaneously, resulting in basal ligand-free signaling. Agonists trigger a cascade of events leading to an activate agonist-receptor-G protein complex with high agonist affinity. However, the ensuing signaling process can further remodel the receptor complex to reduce agonist affinity, causing rapid ligand dissociation. The acutely activated ligand-free receptor can continue signaling, as proposed for rhodopsin and opioid receptors, resulting in robust receptor activation at low agonist occupancy with enhanced agonist potency. Continued receptor stimulation can further modify the receptor complex, regulating sustained ligand-free signaling - proposed to play a role in opioid dependence. Basal, acutely agonist-triggered, and sustained elevated ligand-free signaling could each have distinct functions, reflecting multi-state conformations of GPCRs. This review addresses basal and stimulus-activated ligand-free signaling, its regulation, genetic factors, and pharmacological implications, focusing on opioid and serotonin receptors, and the growth hormone secretagogue receptor (GHSR). Ligand-free signaling of intracellular 5-HT2A receptors could mediate therapeutic effects of psychedelic drugs. Research avenues are suggested to close gaps in our knowledge of ligand-free GPCR signaling.