OPEN Foundation

P. Rodríguez

A Single Administration of the Atypical Psychedelic Ibogaine or Its Metabolite Noribogaine Induces an Antidepressant-Like Effect in Rats


Anecdotal reports and open-label case studies in humans indicated that the psychedelic alkaloid ibogaine exerts profound antiaddictive effects. Ample preclinical evidence demonstrated the efficacy of ibogaine, and its main metabolite, noribogaine, in substance-use-disorder rodent models. In contrast to addiction research, depression-relevant effects of ibogaine or noribogaine in rodents have not been previously examined. We have recently reported that the acute ibogaine administration induced a long-term increase of brain-derived neurotrophic factor mRNA levels in the rat prefrontal cortex, which led us to hypothesize that ibogaine may elicit antidepressant-like effects in rats. Accordingly, we characterized behavioral effects (dose- and time-dependence) induced by the acute ibogaine and noribogaine administration in rats using the forced swim test (FST, 20 and 40 mg/kg i.p., single injection for each dose). We also examined the correlation between plasma and brain concentrations of ibogaine and noribogaine and the elicited behavioral response. We found that ibogaine and noribogaine induced a dose- and time-dependent antidepressant-like effect without significant changes of animal locomotor activity. Noribogaine’s FST effect was short-lived (30 min) and correlated with high brain concentrations (estimated >8 μM of free drug), while the ibogaine’s antidepressant-like effect was significant at 3 h. At this time point, both ibogaine and noribogaine were present in rat brain at concentrations that cannot produce the same behavioral outcome on their own (ibogaine ∼0.5 μM, noribogaine ∼2.5 μM). Our data suggests a polypharmacological mechanism underpinning the antidepressant-like effects of ibogaine and noribogaine.
Rodríguez, P., Urbanavicius, J., Prieto, J. P., Fabius, S., Reyes, A. L., Havel, V., … & Carrera, I. (2020). A Single Administration of the Atypical Psychedelic Ibogaine or its Metabolite Noribogaine Induces an Antidepressant-like Effect in Rats. ACS Chemical Neuroscience.,
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Ibogaine Acute Administration in Rats Promotes Wakefulness, Long-Lasting REM Sleep Suppression, and a Distinctive Motor Profile


Ibogaine is a potent psychedelic alkaloid that has been the focus of intense research because of its intriguing anti-addictive properties. According to anecdotic reports, ibogaine has been originally classified as an oneirogenic psychedelic; i.e., induces a dream-like cognitive activity while awake. However, the effects of ibogaine administration on wakefulness (W) and sleep have not been thoroughly assessed. The main aim of our study was to characterize the acute effects of ibogaine administration on W and sleep. For this purpose, polysomnographic recordings on chronically prepared rats were performed in the light phase during 6 h. Animals were treated with ibogaine (20 and 40 mg/kg) or vehicle, immediately before the beginning of the recordings. Furthermore, in order to evaluate associated motor behaviors during the W period, a different group of animals was tested for 2 h after ibogaine treatment on an open field with video-tracking software. Compared to control, animals treated with ibogaine showed an increase in time spent in W. This effect was accompanied by a decrease in slow wave sleep (SWS) and rapid-eye movements (REM) sleep time. REM sleep latency was significantly increased in animals treated with the higher ibogaine dose. While the effects on W and SWS were observed during the first 2 h of recordings, the decrement in REM sleep time was observed throughout the recording time. Accordingly, ibogaine treatment with the lower dose promoted an increase on locomotion, while tremor and flat body posture were observed only with the higher dose in a time-dependent manner. In contrast, head shake response, a behavior which has been associated in rats with the 5HT2A receptor activation by hallucinogens, was not modified. We conclude that ibogaine promotes a waking state that is accompanied by a robust and long-lasting REM sleep suppression. In addition, it produces a dose-dependent unusual motor profile along with other serotonin-related behaviors. Since ibogaine is metabolized to produce noribogaine, further experiments are needed to elucidate if the metabolite and/or the parent drug produced these effects.
González, J., Prieto, J. P., Rodríguez, P., Cavelli, M., Benedetto, L., Mondino, A., … & Torterolo, P. (2018). Ibogaine Acute Administration in Rats Promotes Wakefulness, Long-Lasting REM Sleep Suppression, and a Distinctive Motor Profile. Frontiers in pharmacology9. 10.3389/fphar.2018.00374
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4 October - Online psychedelic Q&A with Rick Doblin (founder and president of MAPS)