OPEN Foundation

L. Posa

Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) promotes social behavior through mTORC1 in the excitatory neurotransmission

Abstract

Clinical studies have reported that the psychedelic lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) enhances empathy and social behavior (SB) in humans, but its mechanism of action remains elusive. Using a multidisciplinary approach including in vivo electrophysiology, optogenetics, behavioral paradigms, and molecular biology, the effects of LSD on SB and glutamatergic neurotransmission in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) were studied in male mice. Acute LSD (30 μg/kg) injection failed to increase SB. However, repeated LSD (30 μg/kg, once a day, for 7 days) administration promotes SB, without eliciting antidepressant/anxiolytic-like effects. Optogenetic inhibition of mPFC excitatory neurons dramatically inhibits social interaction and nullifies the prosocial effect of LSD. LSD potentiates the α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole propionate (AMPA) and 5-HT2A, but not N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) and 5-HT1A, synaptic responses in the mPFC and increases the phosphorylation of the serine-threonine protein kinases Akt and mTOR. In conditional knockout mice lacking Raptor (one of the structural components of the mTORC1 complex) in excitatory glutamatergic neurons (Raptor f/f :Camk2alpha-Cre), the prosocial effects of LSD and the potentiation of 5-HT2A/AMPA synaptic responses were nullified, demonstrating that LSD requires the integrity of mTORC1 in excitatory neurons to promote SB. Conversely, in knockout mice lacking Raptor in GABAergic neurons of the mPFC (Raptor f/f :Gad2-Cre), LSD promotes SB. These results indicate that LSD selectively enhances SB by potentiating mPFC excitatory transmission through 5-HT2A/AMPA receptors and mTOR signaling. The activation of 5-HT2A/AMPA/mTORC1 in the mPFC by psychedelic drugs should be explored for the treatment of mental diseases with SB impairments such as autism spectrum disorder and social anxiety disorder.

De Gregorio, D., Popic, J., Enns, J. P., Inserra, A., Skalecka, A., Markopoulos, A., Posa, L., Lopez-Canul, M., Qianzi, H., Lafferty, C. K., Britt, J. P., Comai, S., Aguilar-Valles, A., Sonenberg, N., & Gobbi, G. (2021). Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) promotes social behavior through mTORC1 in the excitatory neurotransmission. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 118(5), e2020705118. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2020705118

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d-Lysergic acid diethylamide, psilocybin, and other classic hallucinogens: Mechanism of action and potential therapeutic applications in mood disorders.

Abstract

Depression and anxiety are psychiatric diagnoses commonly associated with low quality of life and low percentage of responsiveness by patients treated with currently available drugs. Thus, research into alternative compounds to treat these disorders is essential to guarantee a patient’s remission. The last decade has witnessed a revamped interest for the application of psychedelic medicine for the treatment of mental disorders due to anecdotal reports and clinical studies which show that low doses of d-lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and psilocybin may have antidepressant effects. LSD and psilocybin have demonstrated mood-modulating properties likely due to their capacity to modulate serotonergic (5-HT), dopaminergic (DA) and glutamatergic systems. LSD, belonging to the category of “classic halluginogens,” interacts with the 5-HT system through 5HT1A, and 5HT2A receptors, with the DA system through D2 receptors, and indirectly also the glutamatergic neurotransmission thought the recruitment of N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptors. Randomized clinical studies have confirmed its antidepressant and anxiolytic effects in humans. Thus, in this chapter, we will review the pharmacology of psychedelic drugs, report the most striking clinical evidence which substantiate the therapeutic potentials of these fascinating compounds in mood disorders, and look into the horizon of where psychedelic medicine is heading.
De, D. G., Enns, J. P., Nuñez, N. A., Posa, L., & Gobbi, G. (2018). d-Lysergic acid diethylamide, psilocybin, and other classic hallucinogens: Mechanism of action and potential therapeutic applications in mood disorders. Progress in brain research242, 69-96., 10.1016/bs.pbr.2018.07.008
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d-Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD) as a Model of Psychosis: Mechanism of Action and Pharmacology

Abstract

d-Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD) is known for its hallucinogenic properties and psychotic-like symptoms, especially at high doses. It is indeed used as a pharmacological model of psychosis in preclinical research. The goal of this review was to understand the mechanism of action of psychotic-like effects of LSD. We searched Pubmed, Web of Science, Scopus, Google Scholar and articles’ reference lists for preclinical studies regarding the mechanism of action involved in the psychotic-like effects induced by LSD. LSD’s mechanism of action is pleiotropic, primarily mediated by the serotonergic system in the Dorsal Raphe, binding the 5-HT2Areceptor as a partial agonist and 5-HT1A as an agonist. LSD also modulates the Ventral Tegmental Area, at higher doses, by stimulating dopamine D2, Trace Amine Associate receptor 1 (TAAR1) and 5-HT2A. More studies clarifying the mechanism of action of the psychotic-like symptoms or psychosis induced by LSD in humans are needed. LSD’s effects are mediated by a pleiotropic mechanism involving serotonergic, dopaminergic, and glutamatergic neurotransmission. Thus, the LSD-induced psychosis is a useful model to test the therapeutic efficacy of potential novel antipsychotic drugs, particularly drugs with dual serotonergic and dopaminergic (DA) mechanism or acting on TAAR1 receptors.

De Gregorio, D., Comai, S., Posa, L., & Gobbi, G. (2016). d-Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD) as a Model of Psychosis: Mechanism of Action and Pharmacology. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 17(11), 1953. 10.3390/ijms17111953
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The hallucinogen d-lysergic diethylamide (LSD) decreases dopamine firing activity through 5-HT1A, D2 and TAAR1 receptors

Abstract

d-lysergic diethylamide (LSD) is a hallucinogenic drug that interacts with the serotonin (5-HT) system binding to 5-HT1 and 5-HT2 receptors. Little is known about its potential interactions with the dopamine (DA) neurons of the ventral tegmental area (VTA). Using in-vivo electrophysiology in male adult rats, we evaluated the effects of cumulative doses of LSD on VTA DA neuronal activity, compared these effects to those produced on 5-HT neurons in the dorsal raphe nucleus (DRN), and attempted to identify the mechanism of action mediating the effects of LSD on VTA DA neurons. LSD, at low doses (5–20 μg/kg, i.v.) induced a significant decrease of DRN 5-HT firing activity through 5-HT2A and D2 receptors. At these low doses, LSD did not alter VTA DA neuronal activity. On the contrary, at higher doses (30–120 μg/kg, i.v.), LSD dose-dependently decreased VTA DA firing activity. The depletion of 5-HT with p-chlorophenylalanine did not modulate the effects of LSD on DA firing activity. The inhibitory effects of LSD on VTA DA firing activity were prevented by the D2 receptor antagonist haloperidol (50 μg/kg, i.v.) and by the 5-HT1A receptor antagonist WAY-100,635 (500 μg/kg, i.v.). Notably, pretreatment with the trace amine-associate receptor 1 (TAAR1) antagonist EPPTB (5 mg/kg, i.v.) blocked the inhibitory effect of LSD on VTA DA neurons. These results suggest that LSD at high doses strongly affects DA mesolimbic neuronal activity in a 5-HT independent manner and with a pleiotropic mechanism of action involving 5-HT1A, D2 and TAAR1 receptors.

De Gregorio, D., Posa, L., Ochoa-Sanchez, R., McLaughlin, R., Maione, S., Comai, S., & Gobbi, G. (2016). The hallucinogen d-lysergic diethylamide (LSD) decreases dopamine firing activity through 5-HT 1A, D 2 and TAAR 1 receptors. Pharmacological Research, 113, 81-91. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.phrs.2016.08.022
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