Researchers test psychedelic on cerebral organoids

October 9, 2017, D'Or Institute for Research and Education
DMT-responsive receptors. Credit: D'Or Institute for Research and Education (IDOR)

A Brazilian study, published in Scientific Reports on October 09, 2017, has identified changes in signaling pathways associated with neural plasticity, inflammation and neurodegeneration triggered by a compound from the family of dimethyltryptamine known as 5-MeO-DMT.

"We describe for the first time psychedelic-related changes in the molecular functioning of human neural tissue," says Stevens Rehen, study leader, Professor of Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) and Head of Research at D"Or Institute for Research and Education (IDOR).

Recent studies have demonstrated that psychedelic such as LSD, MDMA and ayahuasca brew, which contains DMT, have possible anti-inflammatory and antidepressant effects, but the lack of appropriate biological tools is a critical limitation for the identification of molecular pathways targeted by psychedelics in the . In order to study the effects of 5-MeO-DMT, Vanja Dakic (IDOR) and Juliana Minardi Nascimento (IDOR and University of Campinas) have administered a single dose of the psychedelic to 3-D cultures of neural cells that mimic a developing human brain.

By employing mass spectrometry-based proteomics to analyze such cerebral organoids, they discovered that 5-MeO-DMT altered the expression of nearly a thousand proteins. Then they mapped which proteins were impacted by the psychedelic substance and their role in the . The researchers found that proteins important for synaptic formation and maintenance were upregulated. Among them were proteins related to cellular mechanisms of learning and memory, key components of brain function.

On the other hand, proteins involved in inflammation, degeneration and brain lesions were downregulated, suggesting a potential neuroprotective role for DMT. "Results suggest that classic psychedelics are powerful inducers of neuroplasticity, a tool of psychobiological transformation that we know very little about," says Sidarta Ribeiro, coauthor of the study.

Professor Draulio Araujo of UFRN says, ""The study suggests possible mechanisms by which these substances exert their antidepressant effects that we have been observing in our studies."

"Our study reinforces the hidden clinical potential of substances that are under legal restrictions, but which deserve attention of medical and scientific communities," Dr. Rehen says.

Explore further: Substance present in ayahuasca brew stimulates generation of human neural cells

More information: Short term changes in the proteome of human cerebral organoids induced by 5-MeO-DMT. Scientific Reports (2017).

Related Stories

Substance present in ayahuasca brew stimulates generation of human neural cells

December 7, 2016
Ayahuasca is a beverage that has been used for centuries by Native South-Americans. Studies suggest that it exhibits anxiolytic and antidepressant effects in humans. One of the main substances present in the beverage is harmine, ...

Zika virus reduces growth and induces cell death and malformations in human neurospheres and brain organoids

April 11, 2016
Brazilian researchers from the D'Or Institute for Research and Education (IDOR) and Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) have demonstrated the harmful effects of ZIKA virus (ZIKV) in human neural stem cells, neurospheres ...

The interactome of infected neural cells reveals new therapeutic targets for Zika

January 23, 2017
Zika virus (ZIKV) interferes with the cellular machinery controlling cell division and alters the expression of hundreds of genes guiding the formation and development of neurons and astrocytes, according to findings released ...

Plant compound found in spices and herbs increases brain connections

December 10, 2015
Brazilian researchers from D'Or Institute for Research and Education (IDOR), Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) and Federal University of Bahia (UFBA) have demonstrated in laboratory that apigenin, a substance found ...

Combination of conventional and new drugs enhances tumor cell death

August 28, 2017
Cancer is one of the major causes of death worldwide affecting 8.2 million of people per year, and in the US, the number of new cases will achieve 1.6 million in 2017. The global impact of this disease costs a trillion of ...

X-ray to study micronutrients in human minibrains

February 10, 2017
Micronutrients and minerals play a key role during human fetal development. A study published in PeerJ this week describes the composition and distribution of some elements in human minibrains created in the lab.

Recommended for you

Scientists reveal new details of how a naturally occurring hormone can boost memory in aging mice

October 23, 2018
A Columbia study in mice has revealed new details of how a naturally occurring bone hormone reverses memory loss in the aging brain. These findings about the hormone, called osteocalcin, stand to spur further investigations ...

Mutation in common protein triggers tangles, chaos inside brain cells

October 23, 2018
A pioneer in the study of neural cells revealed today (Oct. 23, 2018) how a single mutation affecting the most common protein in a supporting brain cell produces devastating, fibrous globs. These, in turn, disturb the location ...

Nerve-on-a-chip platform makes neuroprosthetics more effective

October 23, 2018
EPFL scientists have developed a miniaturized electronic platform for the stimulation and recording of peripheral nerve fibers on a chip. By modulating and rapidly recording nerve activity with a high signal-to-noise ratio, ...

Researchers find mice lacking gene for PTPRD self-administer less cocaine

October 23, 2018
A team with members affiliated with several institutions in the U.S. has found that disabling the gene responsible for the production of the protein tyrosine phosphatase D (PTPRD) caused test mice to self-administer less ...

New study finds 'timing cells' in the brain may underlie an animal's inner clock

October 23, 2018
Are you taking your time when feeding your pet? Fluffy and Fido are on to you—and they can tell when you are dawdling.

The smell of lavender is relaxing, science confirms

October 23, 2018
Lavender works its relaxing magic all around us: from garden borders to bath bombs to fabric softener. But why not in our hospitals and clinics? And what is the science behind the magic?


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.