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Psilocybin is a serotonin receptor agonist with a therapeutic potential for treatment-resistant depression and other psychiatric illnesses. We investigated whether the administration of psilocybin had an antidepressant-like effect in a rat model of depression.
Using the Flinders Sensitive Line (FSL) rat model of depression, we assessed the antidepressant-like effect of psilocin and psilocybin, measured as a reduction in immobility time in the forced swim test (FST). We measured locomotor activity in an open field test (OFT) to control for stimulant properties of the drugs. We performed a set of experiments to test different doses, treatment paradigms, and timing of the tests in relation to the drug administration.
Psilocin and psilocybin showed no effect on immobility, struggling, or swimming behaviour in the FST and no effect on locomotor activity in the OFT. FSL rats did show significantly more immobility than their control strain, the Flinders Resistant Line, as expected.
Psilocin and psilocybin showed no antidepressant-like effect in the FSL rats, despite a positive effect in humans. This suggests that other animal models of depression and other behavioural tests may be more appropriate for translational studies in the effects of psilocybin.