Fruit Fly Study Shows Psilocybin Produces Long-Lasting Antidepressant-Like Effect

A recently published study found that psilocybin may have long-term effects similar to those of miflies antidepressants, and the psychoactive compounds found in magic mushrooms will one day cause serious human health. Evidence is supported that it may be used to treat the condition.

Charles D. Nichols, a professor of pharmacology at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans and one of the authors of the study, said that studies with fruit flies could support the study of other animals, including mammals. rice field.

“I’ve been studying fruit flies since I got my PhD. Since then, I’ve been investigating the effects of psychedelics and serotonin receptor drugs as part of my overall research program.” Nichols told PsyPost..

“Serotonin and flies receptors are involved in several important behaviors shared with mammals and humans, including many aspects of social interaction, learning and memory,” Nichols added. “Fruit flies represent a powerful genetic model for elucidating drug effects and behavioral mechanisms at the cellular level, enabling faster discovery than mammalian systems.”

Previous studies have shown that psilocybin appears to have antidepressant effects. Studies published in 2020 We have shown that psilocybin may be an effective and fast-acting treatment for major depressive disorders. Most participants showed a significant reduction in depression after treatment, and more than half were considered to be in remission from depression 4 weeks after treatment. Of the 24 patients, 67% showed a 50% or more reduction in depression symptoms after 1 week and 71% showed similar progression at 4 weeks.

“We saw about four times as much effect as clinical trials of conventional antidepressants on the market,” said study co-author Alan Davies of Johns Hopkins University. Says.

No, fruit flies are not depressed

To carry out new studies, researchers are an animal model commonly used to assess antidepressant effects by recording the behavior of rodents facing inevitable adversity. We adopted a forced swimming test.Scientists have adapted the test for use in Drosophila melanogaster, A common fruit fly that has a neurotransmitter system similar to mammals and is widely used in genetic research. Drosophila and humans are very different, but research may be related to humans.

“Fruit flies may not be’depressed'(and for that matter, mice and rats are not depressed; depression is a human illness),” Nichols explained. “We are limited to studying how drugs alter neurophysiology associated with specific behaviors rather than mental states. For example, the forced swimming test itself is specific to humans. Although it does not measure behavior in rodents, forced swimming tests in rodents highly predict human antidepressant effects. Nevertheless, the basic process is preserved and some studies of miflies It provided insight into human biology in that area. “

Nichols’ team found that repeated doses of the antidepressant citalopram reduced fruit fly immobility during a forced swimming test.

“This is similar to the SSRI effect in humans, which requires chronic medication to produce antidepressant effects,” the researchers said.

Psilocybin had antidepressant effects

Psilocybin was found to have antidepressant effects on fruit flies during a forced swimming test. A single dose of psilocybin a few days before the swimming test reduced fruit fly immobility.

“The ability of a single exposure to psilocybin, which alters neurobiology and behavior over the long term in a manner similar to SSRI antidepressants, highly preserves the effects of psilocybin (and perhaps other psychedelics). It shows that it is, “Nichols said. “This means that fruit flies can be used in rapid and powerful genetic experiments to identify the underlying mechanism of how psilocybin alters antidepressant-like behavior. We hope that knowing how to change neurobiology at the level and genetic level will lead to the development and improvement of the use of psychedelics to treat psychiatric disorders. “

Nichols said fruit flies have a short lifespan and breed quickly, which helps speed up research. In contrast, studies using mammals for study can take quite a long time.

“We have previously developed a rat model that has a very long-lasting antidepressant-like effect with a single dose of psilocybin,” said Nichols. “These models are tedious and take months from start to finish.”

“The first author of this study, Dr. Meghan Hibicke, designed and performed the experiment and leveraged his expertise in rodent behavioral pharmacology and models of depression to succeed in this study,” Nichols said. He added.

Researchers have called for continued research with fruit flies to help determine how psilocybin will one day be used to treat depression in humans.

“In the open area for further study, determine which neurotransmitter receptors mediate the effects of psilocybin, and whether other receptors that activate this target have similar effects. Please include identifying other behaviors of flies related to human antidepressant effects that may respond to psychedelics and finally, psychedelics include behaviors related to the study of human depression. It determines the molecular and genetic mechanisms underlying the changing effect, “says Nichols.

A study, “Validation of Drosophila forced swimming test, and its use to demonstrate psilocybin, has long-term antidepressant-like effects in flies.” Published last month By journal Science report..

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