Research carried out by Scientists in Denmark proves that the psychedelic substance psilocybin produces rapid and lasting antidepressant effects because it enhances neuroplasticity in the brain. According to new research, published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, there is evidence that psilocybin increases the number of neuronal connections in the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus of pig brains.

Psilocybin — the active component in the famous “magic” mushrooms — can have profound and long-lasting effects on personality and mood. But the mechanisms behind these effects remain indecipherable. Researchers at Copenhagen University were interested in whether changes in neuroplasticity in the brain regions associated with emotional processing could help explain psilocybin’s antidepressant effects.

During the study, a group of 12 pigs received a psychoactive dose of psilocybin, while a different group of 12 pigs received inert saline injections. Half of the pigs were euthanized one day after the administration of psilocybin, while the rest were euthanized one week later.

An examination of brain tissue from the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex revealed increases in the protein SV2A in pigs who had received psilocybin. SV2A, or synaptic vesicle glycoprotein 2A, is commonly used as a marker of the density of synaptic nerve endings in the brain. SV2A is typically reduced in patients with major depressive disorder.

“We find that a single dose of psilocybin increases the presynaptic marker SV2A already after one day and that it remains higher seven days after,” the researchers said, adding that the “increased levels of SV2A after intervention with a psychedelic drug adds to the scientific evidence that psychedelics enhance neuroplasticity, which may explain the mechanism of action of its antidepressant properties.”

SOURCE: International Journal of Molecular Sciences

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