Psycho-Babble Medication Thread 1122088

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How LSD, psilocybin reduce depression discovered

Posted by Hugh on June 7, 2023, at 12:14:26

For several years, mental health specialists have known that psychedelic drugs like magic mushrooms and LSD can reduce symptoms in patients with chronic depression. But until now, it was not known how such compounds function. While most in the field suspected it was a chemical present in both kinds of compounds, others insisted it was the hallucinogenic trips associated with such drugs that brought relief. The researchers with this new effort have found that it is the former.

The research team added psilocin or LSD to cells in a petri dish in their lab and then looked at what occurred under a microscope. More specifically, they watched the interactions between chemicals in the compounds and receptor cells to see which might bind. After a trial-and-error process, they finally discovered that some of the chemicals were binding to the receptor TrkB -- the same receptor targeted by drugs developed to treat depression -- only they were creating bonds that were 1,000 times stronger. They also found that the result of such strong bonding was an increase in neuroplastic activity -- the mechanism believed to be responsible for the reduction of depression symptoms.

Intrigued by their findings, the researchers gave doses of LSD or psilocin to mice driven to depression by exposure to stressful situations. They then dissected their brains and found the same type of binding they had observed in the petri dishes. They also found that the antidepressant effects from the binding were independent of the effects of chemicals in the drugs that altered serotonin receptors, which are responsible for inducing psychedelic experiences and hallucinations. And that means that the team may have found a way to treat patients without inducing such experiences.

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Re: How LSD, psilocybin reduce depression discovered

Posted by Hugh on June 14, 2023, at 11:11:29

In reply to How LSD, psilocybin reduce depression discovered, posted by Hugh on June 7, 2023, at 12:14:26

June 14, 2023

Study shows psychedelic drugs reopen 'critical periods' for social learning

by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Neuroscientists have long searched for ways to reopen "critical periods" in the brain, when mammals are more sensitive to signals from their surroundings that can influence periods of brain development. Now, researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine say a new study in mice shows that psychedelic drugs are linked by their common ability to reopen such critical periods, but differ in the length of time the critical period is open -- from two days to four weeks with a single dose.

The findings, published June 16 in the journal Nature, provide a new explanation for how psychedelic drugs work, say the scientists, and suggest potential to treat a wider range of conditions, such as stroke and deafness, beyond those in current studies of the drugs, such as depression, addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder. The scientists also provide a new look at molecular mechanisms impacted by psychedelics.

Critical periods have been demonstrated to perform such functions as help birds learn to sing and help humans learn a new language, relearn motor skills after a stroke and establish dominance of one eye over the other eye.

"There is a window of time when the mammalian brain is far more susceptible and open to learning from the environment," says Gül Dölen, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. "This window will close at some point, and then, the brain becomes much less open to new learning."

Building on her laboratory's experience studying social behavior, Dölen's team has been researching how psychedelic drugs work by reopening these critical periods. In 2019, her team found that MDMA, a psychedelic drug that arouses feelings of love and sociability, opens a critical period in mice.

At the time, Dölen thought MDMA's prosocial properties smooth the way for opening the critical period, but her team was surprised, she says, to find in the current study that other psychedelic drugs without prosocial properties could also reopen critical periods.

For the current study, Dölen's team looked at the reopening potential of five psychedelic drugs -- ibogaine, ketamine, LSD, MDMA and psylocibin -- shown in numerous studies as able to change normal perceptions of existence and enable a sense of discovery about one's self or the world.

The research team conducted a well-established behavioral test to understand how easily adult male mice learn from their social environment. They trained mice to develop an association between an environment linked with social interaction versus another environment connected with being by themselves. By comparing time spent in each environment after giving the psychedelic drug to the mice, the researchers were able to see if the critical period opened in the adult mice, enabling them to learn the value of a social environment -- a behavior normally learned as juveniles.

For mice given ketamine, the critical period of social reward learning stayed open in the mice for 48 hours. With psilocybin, the open state lasted two weeks. For mice given MDMA, LSD and ibogaine, the critical period remained open for two, three and four weeks, respectively.

"The open state of the critical period may be an opportunity for a post-treatment integration period to maintain the learning state," she adds. "Too often, after having a procedure or treatment, people go back to their chaotic, busy lives that can be overwhelming. Clinicians may want to consider the time period after a psychedelic drug dose as a time to heal and learn, much like we do for open heart surgery."

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