Study of the neuroprotective and neuroplastic activity of psychedelics
Oxidative stress (OS), to which nerve cells are particularly sensitive, is one of the factors that have been related to neurodegeneration, a characteristic process in diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Therefore, the use of anti-oxidant agents that prevent or limit the damage caused by OS is a useful strategy for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases. On the other hand, plasticity as an essential aspect of the central nervous system, which refers to its ability to modify neuronal connections by generating new synapses between existing neurons in response to stimuli and experiences, can be used to promote recovery from neurodegenerative diseases since these they occur with loss of neuronal connections.
In recent years, the potential use of different psychedelics for the treatment of a variety of diseases that affect the CNS has been evidenced. Some examples of psychedelic compounds or preparations with promising activities in the CNS evidenced in preclinical and / or clinical studies are: psilocybin, pro-drug of the active metabolite psilocin, present in most psychedelic mushrooms and its promising therapeutic activity reported for depression, obsessive compulsive disorder and addiction. Ayahuasca, a decoction of two plants, Banisteriopsis caapi and Psychotria viridis, whose main components are the psychedelic dimethyltryptamine (DMT) and the β-carboline harmine, and its potential use for the treatment of depression and Parkinson’s disease (PD) . Ibogaine and its active metabolite noribogaine, which have a rapid and sustained anti-addiction and antidepressant effect.
These interesting activities at the CNS level have been related to the generation of neuroplasticity and neuroprotection phenomena by the aforementioned psychedelics, evidenced in different in vitro models.
In this sense, we work to characterize the effect of different psychedelic compounds or preparations in the prevention of neuronal damage due to oxidative stress and in the generation of neuronal plasticity as potential treatments for neurodegenerative diseases. In particular, we use the PC12 cell line as a model of neuronal degeneration to evaluate the ability of different psychedelics to protect these cells against oxidative damage, as well as to promote neuronal plasticity and differentiation phenomena.