OPEN Foundation

S. Brandt

The psychoactive aminoalkylbenzofuran derivatives, 5-APB and 6-APB, mimic the effects of 3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA) on monoamine transmission in male rats

Abstract

Rationale: The nonmedical use of new psychoactive substances (NPS) is a worldwide public health concern. The so-called “benzofury” compounds, 5-(2-aminopropyl)benzofuran (5-APB) and 6-(2-aminopropyl)benzofuran (6-APB), are NPS with stimulant-like properties in human users. These substances are known to interact with monoamine transporters and 5-HT receptors in transfected cells, but less is known about their effects in animal models.

Methods: Here, we used in vitro monoamine transporter assays in rat brain synaptosomes to characterize the effects of 5-APB and 6-APB, together with their N-methyl derivatives 5-MAPB and 6-MAPB, in comparison with 3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA) and 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA). In vivo neurochemical and behavioral effects of 5-APB (0.3 and 1.0 mg/kg, i.v.) and 6-APB (0.3 and 1.0 mg/kg, i.v.) were assessed in comparison with MDA (1.0 and 3.0 mg/kg, i.v.) using microdialysis sampling in the nucleus accumbens of conscious male rats.

Results: All four benzofuran derivatives were substrate-type releasers at dopamine transporters (DAT), norepinephrine transporters (NET), and serotonin transporters (SERT) with nanomolar potencies, similar to the profile of effects produced by MDA and MDMA. However, the benzofurans were at least threefold more potent than MDA and MDMA at evoking transporter-mediated release. Like MDA, both benzofurans induced dose-related elevations in extracellular dopamine and serotonin in the brain, but benzofurans were more potent than MDA. The benzofuran derivatives also induced profound behavioral activation characterized by forward locomotion which lasted for at least 2 h post-injection.

Conclusions: Overall, benzofurans are more potent than MDA in vitro and in vivo, producing sustained stimulant-like effects in rats. These data suggest that benzofuran-type compounds may have abuse liability and could pose risks for adverse effects, especially if used in conjunction with abused drugs or medications which enhance monoamine transmission in the brain.

Brandt, S. D., Walters, H. M., Partilla, J. S., Blough, B. E., Kavanagh, P. V., & Baumann, M. H. (2020). The psychoactive aminoalkylbenzofuran derivatives, 5-APB and 6-APB, mimic the effects of 3, 4-methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA) on monoamine transmission in male rats. Psychopharmacology237(12), 3703-3714; 10.1007/s00213-020-05648-z

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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 V: Analytical and behavioural characterization of 1-butanoyl-d-lysergic acid diethylamide (1B-LSD).

Abstract

The psychedelic properties of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) have captured the imagination of researchers for many years and its rediscovery as an important research tool is evidenced by its clinical use within neuroscientific and therapeutic settings. At the same time, a number of novel LSD analogs have recently emerged as recreational drugs, which makes it necessary to study their analytical and pharmacological properties. One recent addition to this series of LSD analogs is 1-butanoyl-LSD (1B-LSD), a constitutional isomer of 1-propanoyl-6-ethyl-6-nor-lysergic acid diethylamide (1P-ETH-LAD), another LSD analog that was described previously. This study presents a comprehensive analytical characterization of 1B-LSD employing nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR), low- and high-resolution mass spectrometry platforms, gas- and liquid chromatography (GC and LC), and GC-condensed phase and attenuated total reflection infrared spectroscopy analyses. Analytical differentiation of 1B-LSD from 1P-ETH-LAD was straightforward. LSD and other serotonergic hallucinogens induce the head-twitch response (HTR) in rats and mice, which is believed to be mediated largely by 5-HT2A receptor activation. HTR studies were conducted in C57BL/6J mice to assess whether 1B-LSD has LSD-like behavioral effects. 1B-LSD produced a dose-dependent increase in HTR counts, acting with ~14% (ED50  = 976.7 nmol/kg) of the potency of LSD (ED50  = 132.8 nmol/kg). This finding suggests that the behavioral effects of 1B-LSD are reminiscent of LSD and other serotonergic hallucinogens. The possibility exists that 1B-LSD serves as a pro-drug for LSD. Further investigations are warranted to confirm whether 1B-LSD produces LSD-like psychoactive effects in humans.

Brandt, S. D., Kavanagh, P. V., Westphal, F., Stratford, A., Elliott, S. P., Dowling, G., … & Halberstadt, A. L. (2019). Return of the lysergamides. Part V: Analytical and behavioural characterization of 1‐butanoyl‐d‐lysergic acid diethylamide (1B‐LSD). Drug testing and analysis., https://doi.org/10.1002/dta.2613
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Self-Experiments with Psychoactive Substances: A Historical Perspective

Abstract

The purpose of this chapter is to highlight the rich tradition of self-experiments (SEs) with psychoactive substances carried out by scientists and therapists for more than a century. Scientifically inspired controlled SEs dominated until the end of the twentieth century, when ethical requirements minimized controlled SEs and “wild” SEs expanded particularly with the emergence of new psychoactive substances. The review focuses on laughing gas (nitrous oxide), cannabis, cocaine, hallucinogens, entactogens, and dissociative hallucinogens. This is due to the fact that substances that induce “complex” effects such as alteration of space/time experience, ego dissolution, and increased feelings and insights (e.g., hallucinogens, entactogens) represent by far the majority of SEs, whereas SEs with substances inducing “simple” effects such as euphoria, anxiolysis, dissociation, or emotional blunting (e.g., cocaine, opioids) are much rarer or even absent (e.g., benzodiazepines). Complex drug effects are much harder to describe, thus allowing SEs to fulfill a more important function.

SEs with psychoactive drugs appeared to emerge in the mid-eighteenth century, which triggered a long-standing tradition throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth century. SEs have been de facto performed for a variety of reasons, ranging from establishing scientific knowledge and gaining philosophical insights to compensating for personal deficits. Self-experimenters can be divided into two general types. Besides their scientific intentions, “exploratory” self-experimenters intend to expand awareness and insight, whereas “compensatory” self-experimenters might aim for coping with psychiatric symptoms or personality deficits. Scientific limitations of SEs are obvious when compared to double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trials. Whereas the former might lead to more “realistic” detailed description of subjective effects, the latter lead to more solid results in respect to objectively measurable “average” effects. Possible adverse effects of SEs were identified that resulted in loss of scientific objectivity and decreased control over substance use and addiction, development of isolation, problematic group dynamics, and “social autism.”

Passie, T., & Brandt, S. D. (2018). Self-Experiments with Psychoactive Substances: A Historical Perspective., 10.1007/164_2018_177
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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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Cytochrome P450 inhibition potential of new psychoactive substances of the tryptamine class

Abstract

New psychoactive substances (NPS) are not tested for their cytochrome P450 (CYP) inhibition potential before consumption. Therefore, this potential was explored for tryptamine-derived NPS (TDNPS) including alpha-methyl tryptamines (AMTs), dimethyl tryptamines (DMTs), diallyl tryptamines (DALTs), and diisopropyl tryptamines (DiPTs) using test substrates preferred by the Food and Drug Administration in a cocktail assay. All tested TDNPS with the exception of DMT inhibited CYP2D6 activity with IC50 values below 100 μM. DALTs inhibited CYP2D6 activity similar to paroxetine and quinidine and CYP1A2 activity comparable to fluvoxamine. 5-Methoxy-N,N-diallyltryptamine reduced in vivo the caffeine metabolism in rats consistent with in vitro results. Five of the AMTs also inhibited CYP1A2 activity comparable to amiodarone. AMT and 6-F-AMT inhibited CYP2A6 activity in the range of the test inhibitor tranylcypromine. CYP2B6 activity was inhibited by 19 tryptamines, but weakly compared to efavirenz. CYP2C8 activity was inhibited by five of the tested TDNPS and three showed values comparable to trimethoprim and gemfibrozil. Six tryptamines inhibited CYP2C9 and seven CYP2C19 activities comparable to fluconazole and chloramphenicol, respectively. Nineteen compounds showed inhibition of CYP2E1 and 18 of CYP3A activity, respectively. These results showed that the CYP inhibition by TDNPS might be clinically relevant, but clinical studies are needed to explore this further.

Dinger, J., Woods, C., Brandt, S. D., Meyer, M. R., & Maurer, H. H. (2015). Cytochrome P450 inhibition potential of new psychoactive substances of the tryptamine class. Toxicology Letters. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.toxlet.2015.11.013
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Return of the lysergamides. Part I: Analytical and behavioural characterization of 1-propionyl-d-lysergic acid diethylamide (1P-LSD)

Abstract

1-Propionyl-d-lysergic acid diethylamide hemitartrate (1P-LSD) has become available as a ‘research chemical’ in the form of blotters and powdered material. This non-controlled derivative of d-lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) has previously not been described in the published literature despite being closely related to 1-acetyl-LSD (ALD-52), which was developed in the 1950s. This study describes the characterization of 1P-LSD in comparison with LSD using various chromatographic and mass spectrometric methods, infrared and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. An important feature common to LSD and other serotonergic hallucinogens is that they produce 5-HT2A-receptor activation and induce the head-twitch response (HTR) in rats and mice. In order to assess whether 1P-LSD displays LSD-like properties and activates the 5-HT2A receptor, male C57BL/6 J mice were injected with vehicle (saline) or 1P-LSD (0.025–0.8 mg/kg, IP) and HTR assessed for 30 min using magnetometer coil recordings. It was found that 1P-LSD produced a dose-dependent increase in HTR counts, and that it had ~38% (ED50 = 349.6 nmol/kg) of the potency of LSD (ED50 = 132.8 nmol/kg). Furthermore, HTR was abolished when 1P-LSD administration followed pretreatment with the selective 5-HT2A receptor antagonist M100907 (0.1 mg/kg, SC), which was consistent with the concept that the behavioural response was mediated by activation of the 5-HT2A receptor. These results indicate that 1P-LSD produces LSD-like effects in mice, consistent with its classification as a serotonergic hallucinogen. Nevertheless, the extent to which 1P-LSD might show psychoactive effects in humans similar to LSD remains to be investigated.

Brandt, S. D., Kavanagh, P. V., Westphal, F., Stratford, A., Elliott, S. P., Hoang, K., … & Halberstadt, A. L. (2015). Return of the lysergamides. Part I: Analytical and behavioural characterization of 1‐propionyl‐d‐lysergic acid diethylamide (1P‐LSD). Drug Testing and Analysis. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/dta.1884
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Research on psychedelic substances

Introduction

The term psychedelic (i.e. mind-manifesting) was coined by Humphrey Osmond to characterize a grou p of substances that are capable of liberating human perception from cultural conditioning, providing an op ening to the transcendent qualities of being human. Osmond claimed that LSD and similar drugs may give people insightful experiences that enable them to better understand themselves and their relationships with the world. Psychedelic substances have the potential to show mindmanifesting properties under appropriate internally and externally supported conditions. They can offer lucid insights into ones psychological make-up and functioning. They are also capable of inducing a spectrum of inner experiences, sometimes
referred to as religious or mystical. Another commonly used term for these substances is hallucinogens, although this synonym is viewed as controversial because of the implication that they somehow cause hallucinations, which they do very rarely. Most psychedelic substances produce visual alterations of perceived objects and pseudohallucinations which are understood by the subject to be illusionary in character […]
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Brandt, S. D., & Passie, T. (2012). Research on psychedelic substances. Drug testing and analysis4(7-8), 539-542. https://dx.doi.org/10.1002/dta.1389
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Analytical techniques for the determination of tryptamines and β-carbolines in plant matrices and in psychoactive beverages consumed during religious ceremonies and neo-shamanic urban practices

Abstract

The consumption of ayahuasca, a hallucinogenic beverage used by indigenous communities in the Amazon, is increasing worldwide due to the expansion of syncretic religions founded in the north of Brazil in the first half of the twentieth century, such as Santo Daime and União do Vegetal. Another example is the jurema wine, a drink that originated from indigenous cultures of the northeast of Brazil. It is currently used for several religious practices throughout Brazil involving urban neo-shamanic rituals and syncretic Brazilian religions, such as Catimbó and Umbanda. Both plant products contain N,N-dimethyltryptamine which requires co-administration of naturally occurring monoamine oxidase inhibitors, for example β-carboline derivatives, in order to induce its psychoactive effects in humans. This review explores the cultural use of tryptamines and β-carbolines and focuses on the analytical techniques that have been recently applied to the determination of these compounds in ayahuasca, its analogues, and the plants used during the preparation of these beverages.

Gaujac, A., Navickiene, S., Collins, M. I., Brandt, S. D., & Andrade, J. B. (2012). Analytical techniques for the determination of tryptamines and β‐carbolines in plant matrices and in psychoactive beverages consumed during religious ceremonies and neo‐shamanic urban practices. Drug testing and analysis, 4(7-8), 636-648. https://dx.doi.org/10.1002/dta.1343
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22 May - Delivering Effective Psychedelic Clinical Trials

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