The response of brain serotonergic (dorsal raphe), noradrenergic (locus coeruleus) and dopaminergic (pars compacta, substantia nigra) neurons to lisuride hydrogen maleate, a non-hallucinogenic ergot, was studied in the rat using extracellular single cell recording techniques. As has been previously reported for LSD, minute intravenous infusions of lisuride (1-5 μg/kg) produced a complete but reversible suppression of raphe unit spontaneous firing. A similar depressant response was noted when lisuride was applied to raphe units by microiontophoresis. In contrast, locus coeruleus neurons were accelerated by the drug at somewhat higher doses (25-50 μg/kg). Pars compacta neurons demonstrated a predominately depressant response to lisuride but many of the cells tested were only partially suppressed and a few units were accelerated. It is suggested that the marked alterations in central monoamine turnover which have been observed with lisuride are directly paralled by changes in impulse flow in monoaminergic neurons. The fact that lisuride has powerful suppressant effects on central serotonergic neurons but no psychotomimetic actions in man challenges the "serotonin theory" of hallucinogensis; however, other pharmacological properties may account for lisuride's lack of hallucinogenic effects. Further studies with lisuride may provide insight into those drug characteristics critical to the presence or absence of hallucinogenic action.
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