Unconditioned behavioral effects of the powerful κ-opioid hallucinogen salvinorin A in nonhuman primates: Fast onset and entry into cerebrospinal fluid

Eduardo R. Butelman, Thomas E. Prisinzano, Haiteng Deng, Szymon Rus, Mary Jeanne Kreek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations

Abstract

Salvinorin A is the main active component of the widely available hallucinogenic plant, Salvia divinorum. Salvinorin A is a selective high-efficacy κ-agonist in vitro, with some unique pharmacodynamic properties. Descriptive reports show that salvinorin A-containing products produce robust behavioral effects in humans. However, these effects have not been systematically characterized in human or nonhuman primates to date. Therefore, the present studies focused on the characterization of overt effects of salvinorin A, such as sedation (operationally defined as unresponsiveness to environmental stimuli) and postural relaxation, previously observed with centrally penetrating κ-agonists in nonhuman primates. Salvinorin A was active in these endpoints (dose range, 0.01-0.1 mg/kg i.v.) in nonhuman primates (n = 3-5), similar to the synthetic κ-agonist U69,593 [(+)-(5α,7α,8β)-N-methyl-N-[7-(1-pyrrolidinyl)-1-oxaspiro[4.5] -dec-8-yl]-benzeneacetamide], used for comparison herein. Salvinorin A effects could be prevented by a clinically available opioid antagonist, nalmefene (0.1 mg/kg), at doses known to block κ-receptor-mediated effects in nonhuman primates. When injected intravenously, salvinorin A (0.032 mg/kg) could enter the central nervous system (as reflected in cisternal cerebrospinal fluid) within 1 min and reach concentrations that are in the reported range of the affinity (Ki) of this ligand for brain κ-receptors. Consistent with this finding, specific translationally viable behavioral effects (e.g., facial relaxation and ptosis) could also be detected within 1 to 2 min of injection of salvinorin A. These are the first studies documenting rapid unconditioned effects of salvinorin A in a primate species, consistent with descriptive reports of rapid and robust effects of this powerful hallucinogen in humans.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)588-597
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
Volume328
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology

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