Selank is an anxiolytic heptapeptide drug produced by the Institute of Molecular Genetics of the Russian academy of sciences (IMG RAS). It is considered to be an anxiolytic or a substance with anti-anxiety effect.
Selank is a synthetic analog of the endogenously produced peptide Tuftsin and is known to be capable of improving and positively altering the immune system, which classifies selank as immunomodulatory.
Semax, another heptapeptide nootropic that was also developed by researchers at the IMG RAS, is a drug closely related to Selank that has been approved for human use in both Ukraine and Russia. There have been many reports from researchers and users that indicate that Selank is a more effective alternative than Semax. Selank however, has recently completed stage III clinical trials in Russia and is awaiting to get the green light for release to human use.
Selank’s Method of Action
From a purely pharmacological standpoint, selank mimics a lot of the effects of tuftsin which is the endogenous peptide it is based upon. These effects include the balance of T helper cells and the modulation of the expression of Interleukin-6. (4)
Additionally, there is evidence that suggests selank may modulate the expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) (3).
Serotonin, Noradrenaline and Dopamine Modulation
Selank’s mechanism of action is suspected to be related to the increase of serotonin. Serotonin influence’s appetite, supports a positive mood, and regulates the sleep and wake cycle. It is also well established that a serotonin deficient state can lead to depression, difficulty sleeping, and lack of an appetite.
A study on mice to unveil the effects of selank on neurotransmitter monoamines and their metabolites showed significant differences in the content of dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, and in the levels of their hypothalamus, hippocampus, and frontal cortex, Further research supports selank’s serotonin raising ability (2) (6).
Selank and tuftsin were also shown to support serotonin levels despite rats being pre-treated with the serotonin synthesis inhibitor p-chlorophenylalanine. Serotonin metabolism was enhanced within 30 minutes of selank administration, however tuftsin was unable to raise 5-HT levels.
Rodents exposed to 6-hydroxydopamine, a neurotoxin which damages the catecholaminergic system, had cognitive processes restored with selank.
Antidepressive Effects (Animal Study)
A study of mice genetically bred to suffer with depression demonstrated selank’s ability to fight anhedonia and restore pleasure seeking behaviors. Administration of selank increased sucrose self administration and reduced immobility during a forced swim test (9).
Anxiolytic / Anxiety Reducing
One study involving 62 patients with generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) sought to compare selank to a benzodiazepine treatment. 30 patients were treated with selank, while 32 with benzodiazepines, Remarkably, efficacy for both drugs was similar, however researchers noted selank carried anti-fatigue effects. (5). Full details on this study are difficult to obtain, as it was conducted in Russia and only the abstract has been indexed in pubmed.
Another study tested the immunomodulatory effects of selank, given that it’s endogenous “cousin” peptide, tuftsin, is primarily related to immune function. Selank was administered to patients with generalised anxiety disorder for 14 days, after which, it was noted that selank suppressed IL-6 levels of patients with depression, while leaving healthy control subjects unaffected. T-helper cell (Th1/Th2) cytokines were also modulated in patients with GAD