OPEN Foundation

K. Demin

DARK Classics in Chemical Neuroscience: Atropine, Scopolamine, and Other Anticholinergic Deliriant Hallucinogens

Abstract

Anticholinergic drugs based on tropane alkaloids, including atropine, scopolamine, and hyoscyamine, have been used for various medicinal and toxic purposes for millennia. These drugs are competitive antagonists of acetylcholine muscarinic (M-) receptors that potently modulate the central nervous system (CNS). Currently used clinically to treat vomiting, nausea, and bradycardia, as well as alongside other anesthetics to avoid vagal inhibition, these drugs also evoke potent psychotropic effects, including characteristic delirium-like states with hallucinations, altered mood, and cognitive deficits. Given the growing clinical importance of anti-M deliriant hallucinogens, here we discuss their use and abuse, clinical importance, and the growing value in preclinical (experimental) animal models relevant to modeling CNS functions and dysfunctions.

Lakstygal, A., Kolesnikova, T., Khatsko, S., Zabegalov, K., Volgin, A., Demin, K., … & Kalueff, A. (2018). DARK classics in chemical neuroscience: atropine, scopolamine and other anticholinergic deliriant hallucinogens. ACS chemical neuroscience., 10.1021/acschemneuro.8b00615
 
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Understanding Central Nervous System Effects of Deliriant Hallucinogenic Drugs through Experimental Animal Models

Abstract

Hallucinogenic drugs potently alter human behavior and have a millennia-long history of use for medicinal and religious purposes. Interest is rapidly growing in their potential as CNS modulators and therapeutic agents for brain conditions. Antimuscarinic cholinergic drugs, such as atropine and scopolamine, induce characteristic hyperactivity and dream-like hallucinations and form a separate group of hallucinogens known as “deliriants”. Although atropine and scopolamine are relatively well-studied drugs in cholinergic physiology, deliriants represent the least-studied class of hallucinogens in terms of their behavioral and neurological phenotypes. As such, novel approaches and new model organisms are needed to investigate the CNS effects of these compounds. Here, we comprehensively evaluate the preclinical effects of deliriant hallucinogens in various animal models, their mechanisms of action, and potential interplay with other signaling pathways. We also parallel experimental and clinical findings on deliriant agents and outline future directions of translational research in this field.

Volgin, A. D., Yakovlev, O. A., Demin, K. A., Alekseeva, P. A., Kyzar, E. J., Collins, C., … & Kalueff, A. V. (2018). Understanding Central Nervous System Effects of Deliriant Hallucinogenic Drugs through Experimental Animal Models. ACS chemical neuroscience., 10.1021/acschemneuro.8b00433

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