Chronic administration of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) every other day to rats results in a variety of abnormal behaviors. These build over the 90 day course of treatment and can persist at full strength for at least several months after cessation of treatment. The behaviors are consistent with those observed in animal models of schizophrenia and include hyperactivity, reduced sucrose-preference, and decreased social interaction. In order to elucidate molecular changes that underlie these aberrant behaviors, we chronically treated rats with LSD and performed RNA-sequencing on the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), an area highly associated with both the actions of LSD and the pathophysiology of schizophrenia and other psychiatric illnesses. We observed widespread changes in the neurogenetic state of treated animals four weeks after cessation of LSD treatment. QPCR was used to validate a subset of gene expression changes observed with RNA-Seq, and confirmed a significant correlation between the two methods. Functional clustering analysis indicates differentially expressed genes are enriched in pathways involving neurotransmission (Drd2, Gabrb1), synaptic plasticity (Nr2a, Krox20), energy metabolism (Atp5d, Ndufa1) and neuropeptide signaling (Npy, Bdnf), among others. Many processes identified as altered by chronic LSD are also implicated in the pathogenesis of schizophrenia, and genes affected by LSD are enriched with putative schizophrenia genes. Our results provide a relatively comprehensive analysis of mPFC transcriptional regulation in response to chronic LSD, and indicate that the long-term effects of LSD may bear relevance to psychiatric illnesses, including schizophrenia.
Keywords: LSD; RNA-Seq; Rat; Schizophrenia; Serotonin; mPFC.
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