Identification of a primary metabolite of ibogaine that targets serotonin transporters and elevates serotonin

Life Sci. 1995;57(3):PL45-50. doi: 10.1016/0024-3205(95)00273-9.


Ibogaine is a hallucinogenic indole with putative efficacy for the treatment of cocaine, stimulant and opiate abuse. The purported efficacy of ibogaine following single dose administrations has led to the suggestion that a long-acting metabolite of ibogaine may explain in part how the drug reduces craving for psychostimulants and opiates. We report here that 12-hydroxyibogamine, a primary metabolite of ibogaine, displays high affinity for the 5-HT transporter and elevates extracellular 5-HT. In radioligand binding assays, 12-hydroxyibogamine was 50-fold more potent at displacing radioligand binding at the 5-HT transporter than at the DA transporter. Ibogaine and 12-hydroxyibogamine were equipotent at the dopamine transporter. In vivo microdialysis was used to evaluate the acute actions of ibogaine and 12-hydroxyibogamine on the levels of DA and 5-HT. Administration of 12-hydroxyibogamine produced a marked dose-related elevation of extracellular 5-HT. Ibogaine and 12-hydroxyibogamine failed to elevate DA levels in the nucleus accumbens over the dose range tested. The elevation in synaptic levels of 5-HT by 12-hydroxyibogamine may heighten mood and attenuate drug craving. The effects of the active metabolite on 5-HT transmission may account in part for the potential of ibogaine to interrupt drug-seeking behavior in humans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Carrier Proteins / drug effects*
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism
  • Dopamine / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Ibogaine / metabolism*
  • Ibogaine / pharmacokinetics
  • Ibogaine / pharmacology
  • Iodine Radioisotopes
  • Male
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / drug effects*
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / metabolism
  • Membrane Transport Proteins*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins*
  • Radioligand Assay
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Serotonin / metabolism*
  • Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Spectrum Analysis


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Iodine Radioisotopes
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • SLC6A4 protein, human
  • Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Slc6a4 protein, rat
  • Serotonin
  • Ibogaine
  • Dopamine