The Effect Of Lsd On Chromosomal Structure

The possibility of inducing structural changes in the chromosomes by exogenous agents such as radiation, viruses, and a variety of chemicals, has been a subject of great scientific interest for a long time. The genetic controversy about LSD started in 1967 when Cohen, Marinello and Back (22) published a paper suggesting that LSD should be added to the list of substances capable of causing abnormalities in the chromosomes. Because of the widespread use of LSD, this information created vivid interest in scientific circles, and a number of investigators focused their attention on this area. Two major approaches were used in these studies; in some the effect of LSD on the chromosomes was studied in the test tube (in vitro), in others in the living organism (in vivo). The cells studied were in most eases human white blood cells (lymphocytes).

In the in vitro studies, the blood samples were drawn from normal, healthy persons with no history of prior drug injection, radiation exposure, or recent viral infection. After incubation at 37° centigrade in appropriate media, colcemide was added to stop the cell division at the stage of metaphase. The cells were then harvested, made into specifically stained eytological preparations and examined with phase contrast microscopy. During the period of incubation, LSD dissolved in sterile distilled water was added to the experimental cultures in various concentrations.

In the in vivo studies, the blood samples were drawn from subjects who had been exposed to either "street acid" (illicit material allegedly containing LSD) or pharmaceutical!)1 pure LSD. In most of these studies, the chromosomes were examined after the exposure to LSD (retrospective approach); in a minority of these studies, the checkups were done both before and after the administration of the drug (prospective approach). The technical procedure employed in the in vivo studies did not differ significantly from that described for the in vitro approach. A special and rather important subgroup of the in vivo studies are reports about the influence of LSD on the chromosomes of the germinal cells (meiotic chromosomes).

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