Psychedelics, Neuroactive Drugs and Addiction

Head of the department

MUDr. Tomáš Páleníček, Ph.D.

Psychedelics are a class of neuroactive drugs that induce psychedelic experiences with altered states of consciousness. In the laboratory and under clinical settings, psychedelics are also unique tools to study human brain functions and the neurobiology of some psychopathological conditions, especially psychosis. Furthermore, recently psychedelics emerged to have ameliorative effects on depression, anxiety, addiction, and some other neuropsychiatric disorders.

The first aim is to study psychedelics in animal models, to elucidate the neurobiology of psychosis and depression, with focus on the neurochemistry, perception, sensorimotor and cognitive processing, neuroplasticity and brain activity, and connectivity using electrophysiology and fMRI. The team is used to working with serotonergic psychedelics (tryptamines, phenylethylamines such as LSD, psilocybin, mescaline, DOB, 2C-B) as well as with NMDA antagonists, dissociative anesthetics such as ketamine, phencyclidine (PCP) and dizocilpine (MK-801) and cannabinoids. The emphasis is on experiments that have translational validity, and the extension of ongoing human experiments with psilocybin, ketamine, and cannabis.

The second aim is research on drug abuse, with a focus on new psychoactive substances (NPS). We compare and screen NPSs for their acute behavioural effects, pharmacokinetics, metabolism, acute and chronic toxicity and addictive potential in animal models. Our expertise is on synthetic phenylethylamines (2C-B, DOB), cathinones (e.g., mephedrone, methylone, naphyrone, MDPV), aminoindanes (MDAI), the dissociative anesthetics (e.g., methoxetamine (MXE)), and selected synthetic cannabinoids. NPS effects are compared with known substances such as ecstasy, amphetamines, classic hallucinogens, dissociative anesthetics as well as natural cannabinoids (delta-9-THC).

We apply several behavioural approaches (e.g., open-field test, prepulse inhibition of the startle response, elevated plus maze, conditioned place preference etc.), electrophysiology, microdialysis, chromatography (LC-MS). Telemetry procedures are currently under development. Our team closely collaborates with the University of Chemical Technology in Prague (UCT), the Institute of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology at 1st Faculty of Medicine, Charles University in Prague (FMCU), the Pharmacology Institute at 3rd FMCU and the Prague Criminalistics Institute to perform a variety of analytical and toxicological studies and behavioural tests.

Key publications

1. Hložek T, Uttl L, Kadeřábek L, Balíková M, Lhotková E, Horsley RR, Nováková P, Šíchová K, Štefková K, Tylš F, Kuchař M, Páleníček T. Pharmacokinetic and behavioural profile of THC, CBD, and THC+CBD combination after pulmonary, oral, and subcutaneous administration in rats and confirmation of conversion in vivo of CBD to THC. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2017 Dec;27(12):1223-1237. doi: 10.1016/j.euroneuro.2017.10.037. IF = 4.129.

2. Horsley RR, Lhotkova E, Hajkova K, Feriancikova B, Himl M, Kuchar M, Páleníček T. Behavioural, Pharmacokinetic, Metabolic, and Hyperthermic Profile of 3,4-Methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) in the Wistar Rat. Front Psychiatry. 2018 Apr 24;9:144. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00144. IF = 2.857.

3. Tylš F, Páleníček T, Kadeřábek L, Lipski M, Kubešová A, Horáček J. Sex differences and serotonergic mechanisms in the behavioural effects of psilocin. Behav Pharmacol. 2016 Jun;27(4):309-20. doi: 10.1097/FBP.0000000000000198. IF = 2.218.

4. Páleníček, T., Fujáková, M., Brunovský, M., Horáček, J., Gorman, I., Balíková, M., Rambousek, L., Syslová, K., Kačer, P., Zach, P., Bubeníková-Valešová, V., Tylš, F., Kubešová, A., Puskarčíková, J., Höschl, C. Behavioral, neurochemical and pharmaco-EEG profiles of the psychedelic drug 4-bromo-2,5-dimethoxyphenethylamine (2C-B) in rats. Psychopharmacology. 2013, 225(1), 75-93. ISSN 0033-3158. DOI: 10.1007/s00213-012-2797-7. IF 3.988.

5. Pálenícek T, Hlinák Z, Bubeníková-Valesová V, Novák T, Horácek J. Sex differences in the effects of N,N-diethyllysergamide (LSD) on behavioural activity and prepulse inhibition. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2010 May 30;34(4):588-96. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2010.02.008. IF = 2.877.

Team members

Bochin, Marcel, Mgr.
Danda, Hynek, Mgr.
Kuchař, Martin, Ing., Ph.D.
Leca, Nikola, Mgr., Ph.D. (Pinterová)
Lhotková, Eva, Ing.
Lyerová, Lucie, Ing.
Mazochová, Kristýna, Mgr. et Mgr., Ph.D. (Štefková)
Nemeškalová, Alžběta, Mgr.
Olejníková, Lucie, Mgr., Ph.D.
Petrušková, Aneta, Mgr.
Syrová, Kateřina, Mgr.
Šíchová, Klára, Mgr., Ph.D.
Vejmola, Čestmír, Mgr.

RP1 Experimental Neurobiology RP2 Public Mental Health RP3 Applied Neuroscience and Neuroimaging RP4 Epidemiological and Clinical Research in Addictions RP5 Sleep Medicine and Chronobiology RP6 Brain Electrophysiology RP7 Clinical Research of Mental Disorders RP8 Translational Neuroscience International Cooperation Department AD Centrum Publications Ongoing Projects Pharmaceutical Industry-Sponsored Research Postgraduate Students Conferences & Seminars Awards International Course 2015
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