Interactions of Hallucinogens with the Glutamatergic System: Permissive Network Effects Mediated Through Cortical Layer V Pyramidal Neurons

  • Gerard J. MarekEmail author
Part of the Current Topics in Behavioral Neurosciences book series (CTBN, volume 36)


Recordings made from layer V (L5) pyramidal cells of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and neocortex in rodent slice preparations have shown that serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT) and serotonergic hallucinogens induce an increase in the frequency of spontaneous excitatory postsynaptic currents (EPSCs) in the apical dendritic field by activating 5-HT2A receptors. Serotonergic hallucinogens induce late EPSCs and increase recurrent network activity when subcortical or mid-cortical regions are stimulated at low frequencies (e.g., 0.1 Hz). A range of agonists or positive allosteric modulators (PAMs) for mostly Gi/o-coupled receptors, including metabotropic glutamate2 (mGlu2), adenosine A1, or μ-opioid receptors, suppress these effects of 5-HT2A receptor stimulation. Furthermore, a range of mostly Gq/11-coupled receptors (including orexin2 [OX2]; α1-adrenergic, and mGlu5 receptors) similarly induce glutamate (Glu) release onto L5 pyramidal cells. Evidence implicates a number of brain regions in mediating these effects of serotonergic hallucinogens and Gq/11-coupled receptors including the midline and intralaminar thalamic nuclei, claustrum, and neurons in deep PFC. These effects on 5-HT2A receptors and related GPCRs appear to play a major role in the behavioral effects of serotonergic hallucinogens, such as head twitches in rodents and higher order behaviors such as rodent lever pressing on the differential-reinforcement-of-low rate 72-s (DRL 72-s) schedule. This implies that the effects of 5-HT2A receptor activation on the activity of L5 pyramidal cells may be responsible for mediating a range of behaviors linked to limbic circuitry with connectivity between the PFC, striatum, thalamus, claustrum, striatum, amygdala, and the hippocampal formation.


In vitro electrophysiology Layer V pyramidal neurons DOI-induced head-twitch response DRL 72-s behavior 


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Global Medical Science, CNS and PainAstellas Pharma Global DevelopmentNorthbrookUSA

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