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J Psychopharmacol. 2011 Nov;25(11):1548-61. doi: 10.1177/0269881110388326. Epub 2010 Dec 8.

Differential contributions of serotonin receptors to the behavioral effects of indoleamine hallucinogens in mice.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of California, La Jolla, CA 92093-0804, USA.


Psilocin (4-hydroxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine) is a hallucinogen that acts as an agonist at 5-HT(1A), 5-HT(2A), and 5-HT(2C) receptors. Psilocin is the active metabolite of psilocybin, a hallucinogen that is currently being investigated clinically as a potential therapeutic agent. In the present investigation, we used a combination of genetic and pharmacological approaches to identify the serotonin (5-HT) receptor subtypes responsible for mediating the effects of psilocin on head twitch response (HTR) and the behavioral pattern monitor (BPM) in C57BL/6J mice. We also compared the effects of psilocin with those of the putative 5-HT(2C) receptor-selective agonist 1-methylpsilocin and the hallucinogen and non-selective serotonin receptor agonist 5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO-DMT). Psilocin, 1-methylpsilocin, and 5-MeO-DMT induced the HTR, effects that were absent in mice lacking the 5-HT(2A) receptor gene. When tested in the BPM, psilocin decreased locomotor activity, holepoking, and time spent in the center of the chamber, effects that were blocked by the selective 5-HT(1A) antagonist WAY-100635 but were not altered by the selective 5-HT(2C) antagonist SB 242,084 or by 5-HT(2A) receptor gene deletion. 5-MeO-DMT produced similar effects when tested in the BPM, and the action of 5-MeO-DMT was significantly attenuated by WAY-100635. Psilocin and 5-MeO-DMT also decreased the linearity of locomotor paths, effects that were mediated by 5-HT(2C) and 5-HT(1A) receptors, respectively. In contrast to psilocin and 5-MeO-DMT, 1-methylpsilocin (0.6-9.6 mg/kg) was completely inactive in the BPM. These findings confirm that psilocin acts as an agonist at 5-HT(1A), 5-HT(2A), and 5-HT(2C) receptors in mice, whereas the behavioral effects of 1-methylpsilocin indicate that this compound is acting at 5-HT(2A) sites but is inactive at the 5-HT(1A) receptor. The fact that 1-methylpsilocin displays greater pharmacological selectivity than psilocin indicates that 1-methylpsilocin represents a potentially useful alternative to psilocybin for development as a potential therapeutic agent.

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