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Biochem Pharmacol. 2008 Jan 1;75(1):17-33. Epub 2007 Jul 20.

The behavioral pharmacology of hallucinogens.

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Division of Neuroscience, Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, 954 Gatewood Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.


Until very recently, comparatively few scientists were studying hallucinogenic drugs. Nevertheless, selective antagonists are available for relevant serotonergic receptors, the majority of which have now been cloned, allowing for reasonably thorough pharmacological investigation. Animal models sensitive to the behavioral effects of the hallucinogens have been established and exploited. Sophisticated genetic techniques have enabled the development of mutant mice, which have proven useful in the study of hallucinogens. The capacity to study post-receptor signaling events has lead to the proposal of a plausible mechanism of action for these compounds. The tools currently available to study the hallucinogens are thus more plentiful and scientifically advanced than were those accessible to earlier researchers studying the opioids, benzodiazepines, cholinergics, or other centrally active compounds. The behavioral pharmacology of phenethylamine, tryptamine, and ergoline hallucinogens are described in this review, paying particular attention to important structure activity relationships which have emerged, receptors involved in their various actions, effects on conditioned and unconditioned behaviors, and in some cases, human psychopharmacology. As clinical interest in the therapeutic potential of these compounds is once again beginning to emerge, it is important to recognize the wealth of data derived from controlled preclinical studies on these compounds.

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