OPEN Foundation

J. Wallach

Correlation between the potency of hallucinogens in the mouse head-twitch response assay and their behavioral and subjective effects in other species

Abstract

Serotonergic hallucinogens such as lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) induce head twitches in rodents via 5-HT2A receptor activation. The goal of the present investigation was to determine whether a correlation exists between the potency of hallucinogens in the mouse head-twitch response (HTR) paradigm and their reported potencies in other species, specifically rats and humans. Dose-response experiments were conducted with phenylalkylamine and tryptamine hallucinogens in C57BL/6J mice, enlarging the available pool of HTR potency data to 41 total compounds. For agents where human data are available (n = 36), a strong positive correlation (r = 0.9448) was found between HTR potencies in mice and reported hallucinogenic potencies in humans. HTR potencies were also found to be correlated with published drug discrimination ED50 values for substitution in rats trained with either LSD (r = 0.9484, n = 16) or 2,5-dimethoxy-4-methylamphetamine (r = 0.9564, n = 21). All three of these behavioral effects (HTR in mice, hallucinogen discriminative stimulus effects in rats, and psychedelic effects in humans) have been linked to 5-HT2A receptor activation. We present evidence that hallucinogens induce these three effects with remarkably consistent potencies. In addition to having high construct validity, the HTR assay also appears to show significant predictive validity, confirming its translational relevance for predicting subjective potency of hallucinogens in humans. These findings support the use of the HTR paradigm as a preclinical model of hallucinogen psychopharmacology and in structure-activity relationship studies of hallucinogens. Future investigations with a larger number of test agents will evaluate whether the HTR assay can be used to predict the hallucinogenic potency of 5-HT2A agonists in humans.

Halberstadt, A. L., Chatha, M., Klein, A. K., Wallach, J., & Brandt, S. D. (2020). Correlation between the potency of hallucinogens in the mouse head-twitch response assay and their behavioral and subjective effects in other species. Neuropharmacology, 107933., 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2019.107933
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Return of the lysergamides. Part IV: Analytical and pharmacological characterization of lysergic acid morpholide (LSM-775)

Abstract

Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) is perhaps one of the best-known psychoactive substances and many structural modifications of this prototypical lysergamide have been investigated. Several lysergamides were recently encountered as “research chemicals” or new psychoactive substances (NPS). Although lysergic acid morpholide (LSM-775) appeared on the NPS market in 2013, there is disagreement in the literature regarding the potency and psychoactive properties of LSM-775 in humans. The present investigation attempts to address the gap of information that exists regarding the analytical profile and pharmacological effects of LSM-775. A powdered sample of LSM-775 was characterized by X-ray crystallography, nuclear magnetic resonance stereoscopy (NMR), gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC-MS), high mass accuracy electrospray MS/MS, HPLC diode array detection, HPLC quadrupole MS, and GC solid-state infrared analysis. Screening for receptor affinity and functional efficacy revealed that LSM-775 acts as a nonselective agonist at 5-HT1A and 5-HT2A receptors. Head twitch studies were conducted in C57BL/6J mice to determine whether LSM-775 activates 5-HT2A receptors and produces hallucinogen-like effects in vivo. LSM-775 did not induce the head twitch response unless 5-HT1A receptors were blocked by pretreatment with the antagonist WAY-100,635 (1 mg/kg, subcutaneous). These findings suggest that 5-HT1A activation by LSM-775 masks its ability to induce the head twitch response, which is potentially consistent with reports in the literature indicating that LSM-775 is only capable of producing weak LSD-like effects in humans.
Brandt, S. D., Kavanagh, P. V., Twamley, B., Westphal, F., Elliott, S. P., Wallach, J., … & Halberstadt, A. L. (2017). Return of the lysergamides. Part IV: Analytical and pharmacological characterization of lysergic acid morpholide (LSM‐775). Drug Testing and Analysis. 10.1002/dta.2222
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Return of the lysergamides. Part II: Analytical and behavioural characterization of N6-allyl-6-norlysergic acid diethylamide (AL-LAD) and (2’S,4’S)-lysergic acid 2,4-dimethylazetidide (LSZ)

Abstract

Lysergic acid N,N-diethylamide (LSD) is perhaps one of the most intriguing psychoactive substances known and numerous analogs have been explored to varying extents in previous decades. In 2013, N6-allyl-6-norlysergic acid diethylamide (AL-LAD) and (2’S,4’S)-lysergic acid 2,4-dimethylazetidide (LSZ) appeared on the ‘research chemicals’/new psychoactive substances (NPS) market in both powdered and blotter form. This study reports the analytical characterization of powdered AL-LAD and LSZ tartrate samples and their semi-quantitative determination on blotter paper. Included in this study was the use of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS), low and high mass accuracy electrospray MS(/MS), high performance liquid chromatography diode array detection and GC solid-state infrared analysis. One feature shared by serotonergic psychedelics, such as LSD, is the ability to mediate behavioural responses via activation of 5-HT2A receptors. Both AL-LAD and LSZ displayed LSD-like responses in male C57BL/6 J mice when employing the head-twitch response (HTR) assay. AL-LAD and LSZ produced nearly identical inverted-U-shaped dose-dependent effects, with the maximal responses occurring at 200 µg/kg. Analysis of the dose responses by nonlinear regression confirmed that LSZ (ED50 = 114.2 nmol/kg) was equipotent to LSD (ED50 = 132.8 nmol/kg) in mice, whereas AL-LAD was slightly less potent (ED50  = 174.9 nmol/kg). The extent to which a comparison in potency can be translated directly to humans requires further investigation. Chemical and pharmacological data obtained from NPS may assist research communities that are interested in various aspects related to substance use and forensic identification.

Brandt, S. D., Kavanagh, P. V., Westphal, F., Elliott, S. P., Wallach, J., Colestock, T., … & Halberstadt, A. L. (2016). Return of the lysergamides. Part II: Analytical and behavioural characterization of N6‐allyl‐6‐norlysergic acid diethylamide (AL‐LAD) and (2’S, 4’S)‐lysergic acid 2, 4‐dimethylazetidide (LSZ). Drug testing and analysis. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/dta.1985
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From PCP to MXE: a comprehensive review of the non-medical use of dissociative drugs

Abstract

PCP or phencyclidine was discovered in 1956 and soon became a popular street drug. Dissociatives including PCP, ketamine, and dextromethorphan have been used non-medically for their mind-altering effects for over 60 years. Many of these compounds have also been used clinically and in legitimate research. At least 14 derivatives of PCP were sold for non-medical and illict use from the late 1960s until the 1990s. With the advent of the Internet, the drug market underwent a dramatic evolution. While initially gray-market chemical vendors offering dextromethorphan and ketamine thrived, most recently the market has shifted to legal high and online-based research chemical vendors. Starting with the first dissociative research chemical, 4-MeO-PCP in 2008, the dissociative research chemical market has rapidly evolved and currently comprises at least 12 dissociatives, almost half of which were unknown in the scientific literature prior to their introduction. Several of these, including methoxetamine, have reached widespread use internationally. A historical account of non-medical use of over 30 dissociative compounds was compiled from a diverse collection of sources. The first complete portrait of this underground market is presented along with the relevant legal, technological, and scientific developments which have driven its evolution.

Morris, H., & Wallach, J. (2014). From PCP to MXE: a comprehensive review of the non‐medical use of dissociative drugs. Drug testing and analysis, 6(7-8), 614-632. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/dta.1620
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Endogenous hallucinogens as ligands of the trace amine receptors: A possible role in sensory perception

Abstract

While the endogenous hallucinogens, N,N-dimethyltryptamine, 5-hydroxy-N,N-dimethyl-tryptamine and 5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine, have been acknowledged as naturally occurring components of the mammalian body for decades, their biological function remains as elusive now as it was at the time of their discovery. The recent discovery of the trace amine associated receptors and the activity of DMT and other hallucinogenic compounds at these receptor sites leads to the hypothesis that the endogenous hallucinogens act as neurotransmitters of a subclass of these trace amine receptors. Additionally, while activity at the serotonin 5-HT2A receptor has been proposed as being responsible for the hallucinogenic affects of administered hallucinogens, in their natural setting the 5-HT2A receptor may not interact with the endogenous hallucinogens at all. Additionally 5-HT2A agonist activity is unable to account for the visual altering effects of many of the administered hallucinogens; these effects may be mediated by one of the endogenous hallucinogen trace amine receptors rather than the serotonin 5-HT2A receptor. Therefore, activity at the trace amine receptors, in addition to serotonin receptors, may play a large role in the sensory altering effects of administered hallucinogens and the trace amine receptors along with their endogenous hallucinogen ligands may serve an endogenous role in mediating sensory perception in the mammalian central nervous system. Thus the theory proposed states that these compounds act as true endogenous hallucinogenic transmitters acting in regions of the central nervous system involved in sensory perception.

Wallach, J. V. (2009). Endogenous hallucinogens as ligands of the trace amine receptors: A possible role in sensory perception. Medical Hypotheses, 72(1), 91–94. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.mehy.2008.07.052
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22 May - Delivering Effective Psychedelic Clinical Trials

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