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Clinical Trial Summary

Psilocybin is a classic serotonergic hallucinogen acting on the 5-HT2A receptor. It is used recreationally and in psychiatric research. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like escitalopram are first-line treatments for depression. They inhibit the serotonin transporter (SERT). This might cause a possible downregulation of postsynaptic 5-HT receptors, e.g. the 5-HT2A receptor. The aim of the study is to investigate the effects of psilocybin after escitalopram and Placebo pretreatment. Subjective and physiological effects as well as effects on gene expression will be assessed.


Clinical Trial Description

Psilocybin (the active substance in "magic mushrooms") is a classic serotonergic hallucinogen acting on the serotonin 5-HT2A receptor. Psilocybin is used recreationally and in psychiatric research. First studies suggest efficacy in psychiatric disorders, such as depression. SSRIs like escitalopram are currently among the first-line treatments of this disorder. Escitalopram acts as a serotonin transporter (SERT) inhibitor. However, the link between this mechanism and its positive effects on mood remains to be established. Several studies suggest a possible downregulation of postsynaptic serotonin (5-HT) receptors such as the 5-HT2A receptor. The aim of the study is to assess whether SERT inhibition reduces expression of the gene coding for the 5-HT2A receptor and the response to psilocybin.

Participants will be treated with escitalopram (10 mg in the 1st and 20 mg in the 2nd week) or placebo for 14 days. Pretreatment is followed the first study day. A single dose of psilocybin (25 mg) will be administered. Primary study endpoint are the subjective effects on consciousness (measured by the 5D-ASC total score). Secondary study endpoints include additional psychological measurements, plasma concentrations of psilocybin and escitalopram, hydroxytryptamine receptor (HTR) gene expression, as well as some safety measures (autonomic effects, ECG). The washout between the first study day and the second pretreatment will be at least 2 days. In the second pretreatment period, participants will be treated with placebo or escitalopram (cross-over) for another 14 days. This is followed by the second study day and administration of psilocybin (25 mg).

Based on a power analysis the sample size is 24 participants (12 female and 12 male). ;


Study Design


Related Conditions & MeSH terms


NCT number NCT03912974
Study type Interventional
Source University Hospital, Basel, Switzerland
Contact Matthias E Liechti, MD, MAS
Phone 613286868
Email matthias.liechti@usb.ch
Status Not yet recruiting
Phase Phase 1
Start date May 1, 2019
Completion date December 31, 2020

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