Abstract Title:

Changes in inflammatory biomarkers are related to the antidepressant effects of Ayahuasca.

Abstract Source:

J Psychopharmacol. 2020 Jul 10:269881120936486. Epub 2020 Jul 10. PMID: 32648790

Abstract Author(s):

Nicole Leite Galvão-Coelho, Ana Cecília de Menezes Galvão, Raíssa Nóbrega de Almeida, Fernanda Palhano-Fontes, Isaac Campos Braga, Bruno Lobão Soares, João Paulo Maia-de-Oliveira, Daniel Perkins, Jerome Sarris, Draulio Barros de Araujo

Article Affiliation:

Nicole Leite Galvão-Coelho


BACKGROUND: Ayahuasca is a traditional Amazon brew and its potential antidepressant properties have recently been explored in scientific settings. We conducted a double-blind placebo-controlled trial of ayahuasca with treatment-resistant depression patients (= 28) and healthy controls (= 45).

AIMS: We are evaluating the blood inflammatory biomarkers: C-reactive protein and interleukin 6, as a potential consequence of ayahuasca intake and their correlation with serum cortisol and brain-derived neurotrophic factor levels. Blood samples were collected at pre-treatment and 48 hours after substance ingestion to assess the concentration of inflammatory biomarkers, together with administration of the Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale.

RESULTS: At pre-treatment, patients showed higher C-reactive protein levels than healthy controls and a significant negative correlation between C-reactive protein and serum cortisol levels was revealed (= -0.40,= 14). C-reactive protein in those patients was not correlated with Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale scores. We observed a significant reduction of C-reactive protein levels across time in both patients and controls treated with ayahuasca, but not with placebo. Patients treated with ayahuasca showed a significant correlation (= + 0.57) between larger reductions of C-reactive protein and lower depressive symptoms at 48 hours after substance ingestion (Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale). No significant result with respect to interleukin 6 and brain-derived neurotrophic factor was found. Furthermore, these biomarkers did not predict the antidepressant response or remission rates observed.

CONCLUSIONS: These findings enhance the understanding of the biological mechanisms behind the observed antidepressant effects of ayahuasca and encourage further clinical trials in adults with depression.

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Sayer Ji
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