Psychedelics as anti-inflammatory agents

Int Rev Psychiatry. 2018 Aug;30(4):363-375. doi: 10.1080/09540261.2018.1481827. Epub 2018 Aug 13.


Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT)2A receptor agonists have recently emerged as promising new treatment options for a variety of disorders. The recent success of these agonists, also known as psychedelics, like psilocybin for the treatment of anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and addiction, has ushered in a renaissance in the way these compounds are perceived in the medical community and populace at large. One emerging therapeutic area that holds significant promise is their use as anti-inflammatory agents. Activation of 5-HT2A receptors produces potent anti-inflammatory effects in animal models of human inflammatory disorders at sub-behavioural levels. This review discusses the role of the 5-HT2A receptor in the inflammatory response, as well as highlight studies using the 5-HT2A agonist (R)-2,5-dimethoxy-4-iodoamphetamine [(R)-DOI] to treat inflammation in cellular and animal models. It also examines potential mechanisms by which 5-HT2A agonists produce their therapeutic effects. Overall, psychedelics regulate inflammatory pathways via novel mechanisms, and may represent a new and exciting treatment strategy for several inflammatory disorders.

Keywords: (R)-DOI; 5-HT2A agonist; 5-HT2A receptor; DOI; Psychedelics; hallucinogens; inflammation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amphetamines / administration & dosage
  • Amphetamines / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology*
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Depression / psychology
  • Hallucinogens / administration & dosage*
  • Hallucinogens / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / psychology
  • Psilocybin / administration & dosage*
  • Receptor, Serotonin, 5-HT2A / metabolism


  • Amphetamines
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Hallucinogens
  • Receptor, Serotonin, 5-HT2A
  • Psilocybin
  • 4-iodo-2,5-dimethoxyphenylisopropylamine