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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Pharmacodynamic effects of serotonin (5-HT) receptor ligands in pigs: stimulation of 5-HT2 receptors induces malignant hyperthermia.

In pigs, the serotonin-2 (5-HT2) receptor agonist 1-(2,5-dimethoxy-4-iodophenyl)-2-aminopropane (DOI), 0.8 mg/kg, induced "psychotic" behaviour (e.g., grimacing, backward locomotion, blank stare) and a muscular syndrome, which is known as malignant hyperthermia (MH) in pigs and humans. This syndrome is characterized by generalized skeletal muscle rigidity, leading to an increase in body temperature, marked acidosis, hyperkaliaemia, cyanosis and elevation of lactate, carbon dioxide and the muscle enzyme creatine kinase ( CK) in plasma. In pigs which were selectively bred for susceptibility to MH induction by known triggering agents, such as halothane, the administration of DOI was fatal in 3 out of 5 animals. In genetically susceptible pigs, MH was also induced by 5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO-DMT), 0.5-1.8 mg/kg, and D-lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), 60-110 micrograms/kg. Furthermore, 5-MeO-DMT and LSD induced head shakes in the animals, which had not been observed after DOI and could not be blocked by 5-HT2-antagonists, ketanserin (0.5-5 mg/kg) and ritanserin (1-2.5 mg/kg). The psychotomimetic effects of 5-MeO-DMT could be blocked by ketanserin or ritanserin, which, depending on the dose, also reduced or totally prevented the hyperthermia and metabolic changes induced by 5-MeO-DMT in pigs. Administration of 5-MeO-DMT, 1.8 mg/kg, was fatal in 4 of 5 MH-susceptible pigs, whereas pigs injected with this dosage after pretreatment with ketanserin (0.5-5 mg/kg) or ritanserin (1-2.5 mg/kg) did not die. In pigs from MH-resistant littermates, administration of 5-MeO-DMT was not fatal. Comparison of metabolic changes in susceptible and non-susceptible pigs suggested that the marked increase in plasma potassium, which arises principally from damaged muscle cells, is primarily responsible for the fatal effect of DOI and 5-MeO-DMT in genetically susceptible individuals. In MH-susceptible pigs, which were anesthetized, relaxed and artificially ventilated, 5-MeO-DMT did not induce hyperthermia, thus substantiating that the marked hyperthermia observed in conscious pigs was a result of muscle activation and not due to effects on thermoregulation or blood pressure. The results indicate that hallucinogenic drugs with 5-HT2 agonistic effects trigger a life-threatening syndrome, MH, in genetically susceptible pigs. 5-HT2 antagonists, such as ketanserin or ritanserin, are capable of counteracting the fatality of this syndrome.[1]


  1. Pharmacodynamic effects of serotonin (5-HT) receptor ligands in pigs: stimulation of 5-HT2 receptors induces malignant hyperthermia. Löscher, W., Witte, U., Fredow, G., Ganter, M., Bickhardt, K. Naunyn Schmiedebergs Arch. Pharmacol. (1990) [Pubmed]
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