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The Role of Endogenous N,N,-Dimethyltryptamine in Positive and Negative Symptoms of Schizophrenia

The Role of Endogenous N,N,-Dimethyltryptamine in Positive and Negative Symptoms of Schizophrenia

  1. Synesthesiac
    Nicole J. Patten, Salisbury University

    INTRODUCTION

    N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) is a widely used hallucinogen, and is the active ingredient in the religious beverage Ayahuasca or Yage, which is commonly drunk for religious, shamanic or healing purposes in Brazil. Members of various religions including the Santo Daime, mix extract of the plant Banisteriopsis caapi with that of other plants containing natural monoamine oxidase inhibitors. This prevents degradation of DMT by gastric enzymes and also prolongs the effects of DMT, which if injected last only several minutes (Ciprian Ollivier & Cetkovich-Bakmas, 1997).
    DMT is structurally very similar to the naturally occurring compounds tryptamine and 5-hydroxy-tryptamine (5-HT) or serotonin. (see figure 1). In 1972 DMT was isolated from brain tissue (Axelrod) and later researchers also isolated the chemical from human urine and cerebrospinal fluid, indicating DMT as an endogenous hallucinogen. Since DMT is naturally occurring in nearly all living systems its purpose in the human body has been speculated but with little progress.
    It has been realized that atypical antipsychotic drugs such as Clozapine and Risperidone act predominantly on 5-HT receptors as opposed to dopamine receptors, sparking interest in the tryptamine model of schizophrenia including the transmethylation hypothesis. This is based on the observation that hallucinogenic drugs such as LSD, psilocybin and DMT are chemically similar to certain neurochemicals including indolamines such as serotonin and melatonin (Ciprian-Ollivier & Cetkovich-Bakmas 1997, Jacob & Presti, 2004) and errors in metabolism may transmethylate the indolamines producing methylated indolealkamines (MIAs) such as N,Ndimethylserotonin (N,N-DMS) or N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (N,N-DMT).