Biochemical Mechanisms Underlying Psychedelic-Induced Neuroplasticity

This review (2022) explores our current understanding of the biochemical signalling pathways activated by psychedelics and related neuroplasticity-promoting molecules. The ability of psychedelics to promote structural and functional plasticity in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and the implications this has for many stress-related neuropsychiatric disorders like PTSD are some of the topics discussed.

Abstract

“In addition to producing profound subjective effects following acute administration, psychedelic compounds can induce beneficial behavioural changes relevant to the treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders that last long after the compounds have been cleared from the body. One hypothesis with the potential to explain the remarkable enduring effects of psychedelics is related to their abilities to promote structural and functional neuroplasticity in the prefrontal cortex (PFC). A hallmark of many stress-related neuropsychiatric diseases, including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and addiction, is the atrophy of neurons in the PFC. Psychedelics appear to be particularly effective catalysts for the growth of these key neurons, ultimately leading to the restoration of synaptic connectivity in this critical brain region. Furthermore, evidence suggests that the hallucinogenic effects of psychedelics are not directly linked to their ability to promote structural and functional neuroplasticity. If we are to develop improved alternatives to psychedelics for treating neuropsychiatric diseases, we must fully characterize the molecular mechanisms that give rise to psychedelic-induced neuroplasticity. Here, I review our current understanding of the biochemical signalling pathways activated by psychedelics and related neuroplasticity-promoting molecules, with an emphasis on key unanswered questions.”

Authors: David E. Olson

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Biochemical Mechanisms Underlying Psychedelic-Induced Neuroplasticity

https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.biochem.1c00812

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Published in
Biochemistry
January 21, 2022
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Study details

Topics studied
Neuroscience

Study characteristics
Literature Review Theory Building

Participants
0 Humans

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David Olson
David Olson is the Chief Innovation Officer and Head of the Scientific Advisory Board at Delix Therapeutics. He is also an Associate Professor at UC Davis and his lab investigates the psychoplastogenic properties of psychedelic substances and other alkaloids, with respect to their ability to treat a wide variety of neuropsychiatric diseases, including depression, anxiety disorders, and addiction, by increasing neuroplasticity.

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Delix Therapeutics
Delix Therapeutics is a drug development company focusing on novel psychedelic formulations.