Psychedelics as Novel Therapeutics in Alzheimer’s Disease: Rationale and Potential Mechanisms

This theory-building paper (2021) makes a case for using psychedelics to treat Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). The effects psychedelics have on neuroplasticity, inflammation and brain functional connectivity are discussed in relation to the pathophysiology of AD. Additionally, results from animal studies have shown psychedelics positively impact learning and memory which could have implications for the treatment of AD.


“Serotonin 2A receptor (5-HT2AR) agonist “classic psychedelics” are drawing increasing interest as potential mental health treatments. Recent work suggests psychedelics can exert persisting anxiolytic and antidepressant effects lasting up to several months after a single administration. Data indicate acute subjective drug effects as important psychological factors involved in observed therapeutic benefits. Additionally, animal models have shown an important role for 5-HT2AR agonists in modulating learning and memory function with relevance for Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and related dementias. A number of biological mechanisms of action are under investigation to elucidate 5-HT2AR agonists’ therapeutic potential, including enhanced neuroplasticity, anti-inflammatory effects, and alterations in brain functional connectivity. These diverse lines of research are reviewed here along with a discussion of AD pathophysiology and neuropsychiatric symptoms to highlight classic psychedelics as potential novel pharmacotherapies for patients with AD. Human clinical research suggests a possible role for high-dose psychedelic administration in symptomatic treatment of depressed mood and anxiety in early-stage AD. Preclinical data indicate a potential for low- or high-dose psychedelic treatment regimens to slow or reverse brain atrophy, enhance cognitive function, and slow progression of AD. In conclusion, rationale and potential approaches for preliminary research with psychedelics in patients with AD are presented, and ramifications of this line of investigation for development of novel AD treatments are discussed.”

Authors: Albert Garcia-Romeu, Sean Darcy, Hillary Jackson, Toni White & Paul Rosenberg


Psychedelics as Novel Therapeutics in Alzheimer’s Disease: Rationale and Potential Mechanisms

A review of the neurobiology of psychedelics and the role of 5-HT2AR in learning and memory, psychoplastogenic effects of psychedelics and related signaling pathways, and psychedelics as anti-inflammatory agents is presented.


Authors associated with this publication with profiles on Blossom

Albert Garcia-Romeu
Albert Garcia-Romeu is one of the principal researchers in the renaissance of psychedelics studies. He is doing his research at Johns Hopkins and focuses on psilocybin and how it can help with treating addiction.


Institutes associated with this publication

Johns Hopkins University
Johns Hopkins University (Medicine) is host to the Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research, which is one of the leading research institutes into psychedelics. The center is led by Roland Griffiths and Matthew Johnson.