Pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of lysergic acid diethylamide in healthy subjects

This analysis of data from two double-blind, placebo-controlled studies (n=40) on the pharmacokinetics of LSD (100 and 200µg) found dose-proportional effects. The effects lasted on average 8.2 and 11.6 hours, there was a strong correlation between the blood-plasma level of LSD and subjective effects, but this was only found within-subjects (over time), not between subjects.


Background and Objective: Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) is used recreationally and in clinical research. The aim of the present study was to characterize the pharmacokinetics and exposure–response relationship of oral LSD.

Methods: We analyzed pharmacokinetic data from two published placebo-controlled, double-blind, cross-over studies using oral administration of LSD 100 and 200 µg in 24 and 16 subjects, respectively. The pharmacokinetics of the 100-µg dose is shown for the first time and data for the 200-µg dose were reanalyzed and included. Plasma concentrations of LSD, subjective effects, and vital signs were repeatedly assessed. Pharmacokinetic parameters were determined using compartmental modeling. Concentration-effect relationships were described using pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic modeling.

Results: Geometric mean (95% confidence interval) maximum plasma concentration values of 1.3 (1.2–1.9) and 3.1 (2.6–4.0) ng/mL were reached 1.4 and 1.5 h after administration of 100 and 200 µg LSD, respectively. The plasma half-life was 2.6 h (2.2–3.4 h). The subjective effects lasted (mean ± standard deviation) 8.2 ± 2.1 and 11.6 ± 1.7 h for the 100- and 200-µg LSD doses, respectively. Subjective peak effects were reached 2.8 and 2.5 h after administration of LSD 100 and 200 µg, respectively. A close relationship was observed between the LSD concentration and subjective response within subjects, with moderate counterclockwise hysteresis. Half-maximal effective concentration values were in the range of 1 ng/mL. No correlations were found between plasma LSD concentrations and the effects of LSD across subjects at or near maximum plasma concentration and within dose groups.

Conclusions: The present pharmacokinetic data are important for the evaluation of clinical study findings (e.g., functional magnetic resonance imaging studies) and the interpretation of LSD intoxication. Oral LSD presented dose-proportional pharmacokinetics and first-order elimination up to 12 h. The effects of LSD were related to changes in plasma concentrations over time, with no evidence of acute tolerance.”

Authors: Patrick C. Dolder, Yasmin Schmid, Andrea E. Steuer, Thomas Kraemer, Katharina M. Rentsch, Felix Hammann & Matthias E. Liechti


This study analysis data from Schmid and colleagues (2015) and Dolder and colleagues (2015).

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