Psychedelics for the Neurobiological Abnormalities in Autism

Synaptic impairments have been regarded as one of the critical markers of ASD. A 2008 study conducted by Gary J Bassell and Stephen T Warren, investigated the role of Fragile X syndrome in autism. Their studies tagged Fragile X syndrome as the leading cause of autism. 

They reviewed how hyper-methylation of the FMR1 gene alters synaptic function and causes a loss of neural plasticity that’s dependent on protein synthesis. A 2017 study by Tian and colleagues found that FMR1-knockout mice show an impairment of synaptic strength mediated by AMPA receptors. This autism-induced impairment is also identified in human-derived samples.

In a recent 2021 study led by Natalie Hesselgrave and colleagues, a single dose of psilocybin was administered to mice. They found that psilocybin was able to stimulate synaptic strengthening mediated by AMPA receptors. In FMR1-knockout rats, this strengthening can normalize synaptic dysfunction.

A 2021 study by Danilo De Gregorio and colleagues also found that LSD, a serotonergic psychedelic like psilocybin and DMT, promoted social behavior by potentiating 5-HT2A and AMPA-mediated mPFC excitatory transmission. An excitatory trasmitter produces an action potential signal in the recieving neuron, which allows cells to trasmit electrical signals toward other cells.

The neurobiological studies we’ve reviewed also support their potential efficacy. Psychedelics can restore AMPA-mediated synaptic function by promoting the growth of dendritic spines and by increasing dendritic arbor complexity.  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *