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Neuropsychopharmacology. 1990 Apr;3(2):137-48.

Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) administration selectively downregulates serotonin2 receptors in rat brain.

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National Institute of Mental Health, Laboratory of Clinical Science, Bethesda, MD 20892.


A dosage regimen of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) that reliably produces behavioral tolerance in rats was evaluated for effects on neurotransmitter receptor binding in rat brain using a variety of radioligands selective for amine receptor subtypes. Daily administration of LSD [130 micrograms/kg (0.27 mumol/kg) intraperitoneally (IP)] for 5 days produced a decrease in serotonin2 (5-hydroxytryptamine2, 5-HT2) binding in cortex (measured 24 hours after the last drug administration) but did not affect binding to other receptor systems (5-HT1A, 5-HT1B, beta-adrenergic, alpha 1- or alpha 2-adrenergic, D2-dopaminergic) or to a recognition site for 5-HT uptake. The decrease was evident within 3 days of LSD administration but was not demonstrable after the first LSD dose. Following 5 days of LSD administration the decrease was still present 48 hours, but not 96 hours, after the last administration. The indole hallucinogen psilocybin [1.0 mg/kg (3.5 mumol/kg) for 8 days] also produced a significant decrease in 5HT2 binding, but neither the nonhallucinogenic analog bromo-LSD [1.3 mg/kg (2.4 mumol/kg) for 5 days] nor mescaline [10 mg/kg (40.3 mumol/kg) for 5 or 10 days] affected 5-HT2 binding. These observations suggest that LSD and other indole hallucinogens may act as 5-HT2 agonists at postsynaptic 5-HT2 receptors. Decreased 5-HT2 binding strikingly parallels the development and loss of behavioral tolerance seen with repeated LSD administration, but the decreased binding per se cannot explain the gamut of behavioral tolerance and cross-tolerance phenomena among the indole and phenylethylamine hallucinogens.

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