Genes explain the effects of psychedelic drugs

By The Science Advisory Board staff writers

July 28, 2022 -- Not everyone has the same response to psychedelic drugs and North Carolina researchers have figured out why -- seven genetic variants of one serotonin receptor greatly impact a certain serotonin receptor’s structure and function.

In their in vitro study, researchers at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill studied the effect of four psychedelic drugs, psilocybin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), 5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO-DMT), and mescaline, on the serotonin receptor 5-HT2A, which is responsible for mediating the effects of psychedelic drugs (ACS Chemical Neuroscience, July 27, 2022).

They used a series of assays to measure the effect that seven different single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) had on in vitro binding and signaling of the 5-HT2A serotonin receptor when in the presence of the four classical psychedelics. They found some gene variations, even ones at a distance from the binding site, alter the way the receptor interacts with the psychedelic drugs. For instance, the SNP Ala230Th had both increased and reduced responses to the drugs tested compared with the original version of the gene, whereas the His452Th mutation showed only reduced effects.

The results indicate patients with different genetic variations will react differently to psychedelic drugs and the researchers suggest physicians consider the genetics of a patient's serotonin receptors to identify which psychedelic compound is likely to be the most effective treatment.

Copyright © 2022

Create an Account

Already have an account? Sign in Here

To access all ScienceBoard content create a free account now:

Email Address:  

First Name:

Last Name:

Learn about ScienceBoard

Get the latest life sciences research and industry news, delivered straight to your inbox, for free.

Why subscribe?

ScienceBoard is uniquely focused on the business of research, addressing the biggest problems that the biomedical industry face. You’ll get breaking news, events coverage, and deep dives into the science that drives innovation, delivered to your inbox daily.

I have read and agree to the privacy policy and terms of service and wish to opt-in for

Email Preferences

Letter from the Editor Please send me twice-weekly roundups of all the latest life research and industry news.
SAB Announcements Please send me the latest announcements from The Science Advisory Board and their partners.
Spotlight Receive notifications about new content, services, or educational resources designed to help you sharpen your skills and grow professionally.