Psilocybin mitigates the cognitive deficits observed in a rat model of Fragile X syndrome

Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2023 Jan;240(1):137-147. doi: 10.1007/s00213-022-06286-3. Epub 2022 Dec 5.


Rationale: Fragile X syndrome (FXS) is the most common form of inherited intellectual disability (ID) and the leading monogenic cause of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Serotonergic neurotransmission has a key role in the modulation of neuronal activity during development, and therefore, it has been hypothesized to be involved in ASD and co-occurring conditions including FXS. As serotonin is involved in synaptic remodeling and maturation, serotonergic insufficiency during childhood may have a compounding effect on brain patterning in neurodevelopmental disorders, manifesting as behavioral and emotional symptoms. Thus, compounds that stimulate serotonergic signaling such as psilocybin may offer promise as effective early interventions for developmental disorders such as ASD and FXS.

Objectives: The aim of the present study was to test whether different protocols of psilocybin administration mitigate cognitive deficits displayed by the recently validated Fmr1-Δexon 8 rat model of ASD, which is also a model of FXS.

Results: Our results revealed that systemic and oral administration of psilocybin microdoses normalizes the aberrant cognitive performance displayed by adolescent Fmr1-Δexon 8 rats in the short-term version of the novel object recognition test-a measure of exploratory behavior, perception, and recognition.

Conclusions: These data support the hypothesis that serotonin-modulating drugs such as psilocybin may be useful to ameliorate ASD-related cognitive deficits. Overall, this study provides evidence of the beneficial effects of different schedules of psilocybin treatment in mitigating the short-term cognitive deficit observed in a rat model of FXS.

Keywords: Fragile X syndrome; Microdoses; Novel object recognition; Psilocybin; Rat.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder*
  • Cognition
  • Fragile X Mental Retardation Protein
  • Fragile X Syndrome* / drug therapy
  • Fragile X Syndrome* / psychology
  • Psilocybin / pharmacology
  • Psilocybin / therapeutic use
  • Rats
  • Serotonin


  • Psilocybin
  • Serotonin
  • Fragile X Mental Retardation Protein