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Hippocampus. 2017 May;27(5):558-569. doi: 10.1002/hipo.22712. Epub 2017 Mar 2.

Effect of a hallucinogenic serotonin 5-HT2A receptor agonist on visually guided, hippocampal-dependent spatial cognition in C57BL/6J mice.

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Department of Pharmacology, School of Basic Medical Sciences, Anhui Medical University, Hefei, Anhui, China.
Jupiter Life Science Initiative, Florida Atlantic University, Jupiter, Florida.
Department of Psychology, Charles E. Schmidt College of Science, Florida Atlantic University, Jupiter, Florida.


By acting on serotonin 5-HT2A receptors (5-HT2A Rs), serotonergic psychedelic drugs induce perceptual and visual hallucinations by increasing neuronal excitability and altering visual-evoked neuronal responses. The present study was designed to examine whether the perceptual alterations induced by a serotonergic psychedelic drug would affect the integrity of hippocampal-dependent, visually guided spatial cognition. phenylalkylamine hallucinogen TCB-2 is a selective agonist of 5-HT2A Rs. Mice received TCB-2 (1.0 mg kg-1 , i.p.), and spatial behaviors and hippocampal electrophysiological responses were measured with water maze tasks and in vivo single-unit recording, respectively. TCB-2 did not affect visual cue approach behavior in the visible platform water maze, but increased the latency of trained mice to initiate goal-directed swimming during a probe test in the hidden platform Morris water maze, which could be prevented by 5-HT2A R antagonist MDL 11,939. Interestingly, TCB-2 did not affect the efficiency of the swim path or the proper use of distal visual cues during the probe test. Hippocampal place cell activity is considered to represent spatial and context-specific episodic memory. Systemic TCB-2 did not affect previously established place fields of CA1 neurons in mice exploring a familiar environment, or the remapping of place cells when the mice explored a novel environment. However, TCB-2 impaired the long-term stability of place fields for the novel environment initially encoded under the influence of TCB-2, which could be prevented by 5-HT2A R antagonist MDL 11,939. Our data indicate that hallucinogenic 5-HT2A R agonist delays the initiation of spatial search behavior, but does not impair the use of visual cues to guide goal-directed spatial behavior. Moreover, activation of 5-HT2A Rs does not impair the coding and retrieval of spatial information, but impairs the long-term stability of new formed place fields of CA1 neurons.


5-HT2A receptor; in vivo recording; place cell; spatial navigation; water maze

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