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The fibrinolytic system: A new target for treatment of depression with psychedelics

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Current understanding of the neurobiology of depression has grown over the past few years beyond the traditional monoamine theory of depression to include chronic stress, inflammation and disrupted synaptic plasticity. Tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) is a key factor that not only promotes fibrinolysis via the activation of plasminogen, but also contributes to regulation of synaptic plasticity and neurogenesis through plasmin-mediated activation of a probrain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) to mature BDNF. ProBDNF activation could potentially be supressed by competition with fibrin for plasmin and tPA. High affinity binding of plasmin and tPA to fibrin could result in a decrease of proBDNF activation during brain inflammation leading to fibrosis further perpetuating depressed mood. There is a paucity of data explaining the possible role of the fibrinolytic system or aberrant extravascular fibrin deposition in depression. We propose that within the brain, an imbalance between tPA and urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA) and plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) and neuroserpin favors the inhibitors, resulting in changes in neurogenesis, synaptic plasticity, and neuroinflammation that result in depressive behavior. Our hypothesis is that peripheral inflammation mediates neuroinflammation, and that cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) can inhibit the fibrinolytic system by up- regulating PAI-1 and potentially neuroserpin. We propose that the decrement of the activity of tPA and uPA occurs with downregulation of uPA in part involving the binding and clearance from the surface of neural cells of uPA/PAI-1 complexes by the urokinase receptor uPAR. We infer that current antidepressants and ketamine mitigate depressive symptoms by restoring the balance of the fibrinolytic system with increased activity of tPA and uPA with down-regulated intracerebral expression of their inhibitors. We lastly hypothesize that psychedelic 5-ht2a receptor agonists, such as psilocybin, can improve mood through anti- inflammatory and pro-fibrinolytic effects that include blockade of TNF-α activity leading to decreased PAI-1 activity and increased clearance. The process involves disinhibition of tPA and uPA with subsequent increased cleavage of proBDNF which promotes neurogenesis, decreased neuroinflammation, decreased fibrin deposition, normalized glial-neuronal cross-talk, and optimally functioning neuro-circuits involved in mood. We propose that psilocybin can alleviate deleterious changes in the brain caused by chronic stress leading to restoration of homeostatic brain fibrinolytic capacity leading to euthymia.

Idell, R. D., Florova, G., Komissarov, A. A., Shetty, S., Girard, R. B. S., & Idell, S. (2017). The fibrinolytic system: A new target for treatment of depression with psychedelics. Medical Hypotheses, 100, 46-53. 10.1016/j.mehy.2017.01.013
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