Author ORCID Identifier


Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Physiology and Biophysics

First Advisor

Javier González-Maeso

Second Advisor

M. Imad Damaj

Third Advisor

Patrick M. Beardsley


Psychedelics are a subset of hallucinogenic drugs that exert their characteristic effects through agonist activity at the serotonin receptor 2A (5-HT2A). In this study, I aimed to characterize the modulatory role of the metabotropic glutamate subtype 2 receptor (mGluR2) in the 5-HT2A-specific rodent model of hallucinogenic action, head-twitch response (HTR). Secondly, I aimed to explore if 5-HT2A agonist-induced deficits in prepulse inhibition (PPI) of the startle response, an additional model of hallucinogenic action, could be produced in mice. Though 5-HT2A agonist-induced PPI deficits, which represent interruptions in normal sensorimotor gating, have been described in both rats and humans, attempts to translate this behavior to mice are rare. In contrast to prior gene knockout studies suggesting the mGluR2 is necessary for 5-HT2A agonist-induced HTR, mGluR2 knockout (Grm2-/-) mice still displayed HTR upon administration of the psychedelic 2,5-dimethoxy-4-iodoamphetamine (DOI). Additionally, DOI and lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) produced unexpected improvements in PPI in male 126S6/Sv wild-type mice, depending on the experimental protocol used and the origin of the animals. Sex differences were observed as DOI-induced improvements in PPI were present in female 129S6/Sv mice of the same origin and tested with the same protocol as their male counterparts; this effect in females was absent in 5-HT2A knockout (Htr2a-/-) mice. The results of this study shed light on issues with replicability and reproducibility in science, the importance of highlighting the origin and background of animal subjects, and potential sex differences in hallucinogenic drug action.


© Hiba Zainab Vohra

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