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Sci Rep. 2019 Jun 27;9(1):9333. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-45812-w.

Biosynthesis and Extracellular Concentrations of N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT) in Mammalian Brain.

Author information

1
Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.
2
Center for Consciousness Science, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.
3
Department of Comparative Biomedical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA, USA.
4
Department of Psychiatry, University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Albuquerque, NM, USA.
5
Department of Neurology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.
6
Neuroscience Graduate Program, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.
7
VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.
8
Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA. borjigin@umich.edu.
9
Department of Neurology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA. borjigin@umich.edu.
10
Neuroscience Graduate Program, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA. borjigin@umich.edu.
11
Center for Consciousness Science, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA. borjigin@umich.edu.

Abstract

N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT), a psychedelic compound identified endogenously in mammals, is biosynthesized by aromatic-L-amino acid decarboxylase (AADC) and indolethylamine-N-methyltransferase (INMT). Whether DMT is biosynthesized in the mammalian brain is unknown. We investigated brain expression of INMT transcript in rats and humans, co-expression of INMT and AADC mRNA in rat brain and periphery, and brain concentrations of DMT in rats. INMT transcripts were identified in the cerebral cortex, pineal gland, and choroid plexus of both rats and humans via in situ hybridization. Notably, INMT mRNA was colocalized with AADC transcript in rat brain tissues, in contrast to rat peripheral tissues where there existed little overlapping expression of INMT with AADC transcripts. Additionally, extracellular concentrations of DMT in the cerebral cortex of normal behaving rats, with or without the pineal gland, were similar to those of canonical monoamine neurotransmitters including serotonin. A significant increase of DMT levels in the rat visual cortex was observed following induction of experimental cardiac arrest, a finding independent of an intact pineal gland. These results show for the first time that the rat brain is capable of synthesizing and releasing DMT at concentrations comparable to known monoamine neurotransmitters and raise the possibility that this phenomenon may occur similarly in human brains.

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