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A single psilocybin dose is associated with long-term increased mindfulness, preceded by a proportional change in neocortical 5-HT2A receptor binding

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A single dose of the serotonin 2A receptor (5-HT2AR) agonist psilocybin can have long-lasting beneficial effects on mood, personality, and potentially on mindfulness, but underlying mechanisms are unknown. Here, we for the first time conduct a study that assesses psilocybin effects on cerebral 5-HT2AR binding with [11C]Cimbi-36 positron emission tomography (PET) imaging and on personality and mindfulness. Ten healthy and psychedelic-naïve volunteers underwent PET neuroimaging of 5-HT2AR at baseline (BL) and one week (1W) after a single oral dose of psilocybin (0.2-0.3 mg/kg). Personality (NEO PI-R) and mindfulness (MAAS) questionnaires were completed at BL and at three-months follow-up (3M). Paired t-tests revealed statistically significant increases in personality Openness (puncorrected = 0.04, mean change [95%CI]: 4.2[0.4;∞]), which was hypothesized a priori to increase, and mindfulness (pFWER = 0.02, mean change [95%CI]: 0.5 [0.2;0.7]). Although 5-HT2AR binding at 1W versus BL was similar across individuals (puncorrected = 0.8, mean change [95%CI]: 0.007 [-0.04;0.06]), a post hoc linear regression analysis showed that change in mindfulness and 5-HT2AR correlated negatively (β [95%CI] = -5.0 [-9.0; -0.9], pFWER= 0.046). In conclusion, we confirm that psilocybin intake is associated with long-term increases in Openness and - as a novel finding - mindfulness, which may be a key element of psilocybin therapy. Cerebral 5-HT2AR binding did not change across individuals but the negative association between changes in 5-HT2AR binding and mindfulness suggests that individual change in 5-HT2AR levels after psilocybin is variable and represents a potential mechanism influencing long-term effects of psilocybin on mindfulness.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean neuropsychopharmacology : the journal of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology
Volume33
Pages (from-to)71-80
Number of pages10
ISSN0924-977X
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020

    Research areas

  • Psilocybin, Personality, 5-HT2AR, PET, Mindfulness

ID: 60077580