Psychedelic Information Theory

Shamanism in the Age of Reason


Presynaptic uptake blockade hypothesis for LSD action at the lateral inhibitory synapse in Limulus

Kass L, Hartline PH, Adolph AR ; The Journal of General Physiology, Vol 82, 245-267

We investigated the action of LSD at the putative indoleaminergic lateral inhibitory synapse in the lateral eye of Limulus polyphemus. We recorded extracellular and intracellular voltage responses from eccentric cells while producing inhibition either by light or by antidromic stimulation of the optic nerve in the presence of LSD, serotonin (5-HT), chlorimipramine, or a bathing medium whose high Mg++ and low Ca++ concentrations partially or completely blocked synaptic transmission. We found (a) light-evoked and antidromically stimulated lateral inhibition is enhanced during superfusion of low (1-5 microM) concentrations of LSD and suppressed by higher (5-20 microM) concentrations; (b) these actions of LSD are markedly reduced by bathing the retina in a medium high in Mg++ and low in Ca++; (c) very low concentrations of chlorimipramine, a putative uptake blocker of serotonin, appear to mimic actions of LSD both on eccentric cell firing rate and on lateral inhibition; (d) superfused 5-HT depresses lateral inhibition at all superthreshold concentrations (0.1-25 microM). These results suggest that LSD's action may require an intact inhibitory transmitter release and postsynaptic response mechanism, whereas serotonin exerts a direct postsynaptic effect. We propose that LSD blocks presynaptic uptake of transmitter at the lateral inhibitory synapse. The concentration dependence of LSD's action can be accounted for as follows: low concentrations partially restrict transmitter reuptake, thereby prolonging the lifetime of the transmitter in the synaptic cleft and thus increasing the magnitude and duration of postsynaptic inhibition. Higher concentrations cause more presynaptic uptake sites to be blocked; this causes accumulation of transmitter in the synaptic cleft, which causes a functional blockade of the synapse because of postsynaptic desensitization. As an alternative, we propose a hypothesis based on LSD action at presynaptic autoreceptors. Similar hypotheses can account for many aspects of LSD's action in mammalian brain.

Keywords: lateral inhibition, LSD, lateral disinhibition

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