Various papers and their respective abstracts concerning Ketamine’s antidepressant efficacy in major depressive disorder, bipolar depression, anxiety and other psychiatric / mental illnesses.
1. Ketamine as a novel treatment for major depressive disorder and bipolar depression: a systematic review and quantitative meta-analysis
Given the significant disability, morbidity and mortality associated with depression, the promising recent trials of ketamine highlight a novel intervention. A meta-analysis was conducted to assess the efficacy of ketamine in comparison with placebo for the reduction of depressive symptoms in patients who meet criteria for a major depressive episode.
Two electronic databases were searched in September 2013 for English-language studies that were randomized placebo-controlled trials of ketamine treatment for patients with major depressive disorder or bipolar depression and utilized a standardized rating scale. Studies including participants receiving electroconvulsive therapy and adolescent/child participants were excluded. Five studies were included in the quantitative meta-analysis.
The quantitative meta-analysis showed that ketamine significantly reduced depressive symptoms. The overall effect size at day 1 was large and statistically significant with an overall standardized mean difference of 1.01 (95% confidence interval 0.69–1.34) (P< .001), with the effects sustained at 7 days postinfusion. The heterogeneity of the studies was low and not statistically significant, and the funnel plot showed no publication bias.
The large and statistically significant effect of ketamine on depressive symptoms supports a promising, new and effective pharmacotherapy with rapid onset, high efficacy and good tolerability.
2. Has psychiatry tamed the “ketamine tiger?” Considerations on its use for depression and anxiety
Ketamine has been available for approximately 50 years as an anesthetic agent. It is known to have potent effects on the central nervous system glutamatergic system, in particular blockade of N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptors. Based upon pre-clinical evidence of involvement of the glutamatergic system in mood disorders, studies have been undertaken to test the antidepressant properties of ketamine. Several well-controlled studies, along with open-label case series, have established that ketamine can have rapid antidepressant effects. Additionally, data exist showing benefits of ketamine in post-traumatic stress disorder as well as obsessive compulsive disorder. However, improvements in these conditions tend to be short-lived with single infusions of ketamine. Of concern, ketamine has been associated with neurotoxicity in pre-clinical rodent models and is well-known to cause psychotomimetic effects and addiction in humans. While ketamine has been proven safe for use in sub-anesthetic doses administered once or a few times, the safety profile of prolonged use has not been established. Aspects of safety, possible mechanisms of action, and future directions of ketamine research are discussed in addition to the clinical literature on its use in psychiatric conditions.
3. Ketamine and other N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor antagonists in the treatment of depression: a perspective review
Current pharmacotherapies for major depressive disorder (MDD) and bipolar depression (BDep) have a distinct lag of onset that can generate great distress and impairment in patients. Furthermore, as demonstrated by several real-world effectiveness trials, their efficacy is limited. All approved antidepressant medications for MDD primarily act through monoaminergic mechanisms, agonists or antagonists with varying affinities for serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine. The glutamate system has received much attention in recent years as an avenue for developing novel therapeutics. A single subanesthetic dose infusion of the noncompetitive N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist ketamine has been shown to have rapid and potent antidepressant effects in treatment-resistant MDD and BDep. In a reverse translational framework, ketamine’s clinical efficacy has inspired many preclinical studies to explore glutamatergic mechanisms of antidepressant action. These studies have revealed enhanced synaptic plasticity/synaptogenesis via numerous molecular and cellular mechanisms: release of local translational inhibition of brain-derived neurotrophic factor and secretion from dendritic spines, mammalian target of rapamycin activation and glycogen synthase kinase-3 inhibition. Current efforts are focused on extending ketamine’s antidepressant efficacy, uncovering the neurobiological mechanisms responsible for ketamine’s antidepressant activity in biologically enriched subgroups, and identifying treatment response biomarkers to personalize antidepressant selection. Other NMDA receptor antagonists have been studied both preclinically and clinically, which have revealed relatively modest antidepressant effects compared with ketamine but potentially other favorable characteristics, for example, decreased dissociative or psychotomimetic effects; therefore, there is great interest in developing novel glutamatergic antidepressants with greater target specificity and/or decreased adverse effects.
4. Rapid and Longer-Term Antidepressant Effects of Repeated Ketamine Infusions in Treatment-Resistant Major Depression
Ketamine is reported to have rapid antidepressant effects; however, there is limited understanding of the time-course of ketamine effects beyond a single infusion. A previous report including 10 participants with treatment-resistant major depression (TRD) found that six ketamine infusions resulted in a sustained antidepressant effect. In the current report, we examined the pattern and durability of antidepressant effects of repeated ketamine infusions in a larger sample, inclusive of the original.
Participants with TRD (n = 24) underwent a washout of antidepressant medication followed by a series of up to six IV infusions of ketamine (.5 mg/kg) administered open-label three times weekly over a 12-day period. Participants meeting response criteria were monitored for relapse for up to 83 days from the last infusion.
The overall response rate at study end was 70.8%. There was a large mean decrease in Montgomery–Åsberg Depression Rating Scale score at 2 hours after the first ketamine infusion (18.9 ± 6.6, p < .001), and this decrease was largely sustained for the duration of the infusion period. Response at study end was strongly predicted by response at 4 hours (94% sensitive, 71% specific). Among responders, median time to relapse after the last ketamine infusion was 18 days.
Ketamine was associated with a rapid antidepressant effect in TRD that was predictive of a sustained effect. Future controlled studies will be required to identify strategies to maintain an antidepressant response among patients who benefit from a course of ketamine.
5. Anti-anhedonic effect of ketamine and its neural correlates in treatment-resistant bipolar depression
Anhedonia — which is defined as diminished pleasure from, or interest in, previously rewarding activities — is one of two cardinal symptoms of a major depressive episode. However, evidence suggests that standard treatments for depression do little to alleviate the symptoms of anhedonia and may cause reward blunting. Indeed, no therapeutics are currently approved for the treatment of anhedonia. Notably, over half of patients diagnosed with bipolar disorder experience significant levels of anhedonia during a depressive episode. Recent research into novel and rapid-acting therapeutics for depression, particularly the noncompetitive N-Methyl-D-aspartate receptor antagonist ketamine, has highlighted the role of the glutamatergic system in the treatment of depression; however, it is unknown whether ketamine specifically improves anhedonic symptoms. The present study used a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind crossover design to examine whether a single ketamine infusion could reduce anhedonia levels in 36 patients with treatment-resistant bipolar depression. The study also used positron emission tomography imaging in a subset of patients to explore the neurobiological mechanisms underpinning ketamine’s anti-anhedonic effects. We found that ketamine rapidly reduced the levels of anhedonia. Furthermore, this reduction occurred independently from reductions in general depressive symptoms. Anti-anhedonic effects were specifically related to increased glucose metabolism in the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex and putamen. Our study emphasizes the importance of the glutamatergic system in treatment-refractory bipolar depression, particularly in the treatment of symptoms such as anhedonia.
6. Ketamine, magnesium and major depression — from pharmacology to pathophysiology and back.
The glutamatergic mechanism of antidepressant treatments is now in the center of research to overcome the limitations of monoamine-based approaches. There are several unresolved issues. For the action of the model compound, ketamine, NMDA-receptor block, AMPA-receptor activation and BDNF release appear to be involved in a mechanism, which leads to synaptic sprouting and strengthened synaptic connections. The link to the pathophysiology of depression is not clear. An overlooked connection is the role of magnesium, which acts as physiological NMDA-receptor antagonist: 1. There is overlap between the actions of ketamine with that of high doses of magnesium in animal models, finally leading to synaptic sprouting. 2. Magnesium and ketamine lead to synaptic strengthening, as measured by an increase in slow wave sleep in humans. 3. Pathophysiological mechanisms, which have been identified as risk factors for depression, lead to a reduction of (intracellular) magnesium. These are neuroendocrine changes (increased cortisol and aldosterone) and diabetes mellitus as well as Mg(2+) deficiency. 4. Patients with therapy refractory depression appear to have lower CNS Mg(2+) levels in comparison to health controls. 5. Experimental Mg(2+) depletion leads to depression- and anxiety like behavior in animal models. 6. Ketamine, directly or indirectly via non-NMDA glutamate receptor activation, acts to increase brain Mg(2+) levels. Similar effects have been observed with other classes of antidepressants. 7. Depressed patients with low Mg(2+) levels tend to be therapy refractory. Accordingly, administration of Mg(2+) either alone or in combination with standard antidepressants acts synergistically on depression like behavior in animal models.
On the basis of the potential pathophysiological role of Mg(2+)-regulation, it may be possible to predict the action of ketamine and of related compounds based on Mg(2+) levels. Furthermore, screening for compounds to increase neuronal Mg(2+) concentration could be a promising instrument to identify new classes of antidepressants. Overall, any discussion of the glutamatergic system in affective disorders should consider the role of Mg(2+).
7. Vitamin B12 Level may be Related to the Efficacy of Single Ketamine Infusion in Bipolar Depression(2013)
The single infusion of ketamine, an N-methyl-d-aspartic acid (NMDA) glutamate receptor antagonist, exerts a therapeutic effect in both unipolar and bipolar depression. Homocysteine (HCY) acts agonistically on the NMDA receptor, hyperhomocysteinemia is related to depression, and folic acid and vitamin B12 are associated with HCY system. We estimated the serum levels of these substances in 20 bipolar depressed patients before ketamine infusion. 10 patients responded favorably to this procedure, as their score on the Hamilton depression rating scale, compared to baseline, was reduced by more than 50%, after 7 days. The vitamin B12 level was significantly higher in “responders” compared to the remaining patients. No differences between the 2 groups were found with regard to HCY, folic acid levels and such clinical factors as age, duration of illness and duration of current episode. These preliminary data suggest that the vitamin B12 level may be connected with the efficacy of ketamine infusion in bipolar depression.
8. Ketamine’s Antidepressant Efficacy is Extended for at Least Four Weeks in Subjects with a Family History of an Alcohol Use Disorder
Background: A single subanesthetic infusion of the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist ketamine has rapid and potent antidepressant properties in treatment-resistant major depressive disorder (TRD). As a family history of an alcohol use disorder is a positive predictor of ketamine’s antidepressant response and the strength of the association increases over time, we hypothesized that depressed subjects with a family history of an alcohol use disorder would have greater antidepressant durability and that riluzole would augment and/or extend ketamine’s antidepressant efficacy.
Methods: Fifty-two TRD subjects received an open-label infusion of ketamine (0.5mg/kg over 40 minutes), and, four to six hours post-infusion, were randomized to either flexible-dose (100–200mg/day) riluzole or placebo in the following proportions: Family History Positive (FHP) riluzole (n = 10), FHP placebo (n = 9), Family History Negative (FHN) riluzole (n = 16), and FHN placebo (n = 17).
Results: FHP subjects randomized to placebo had a greater antidepressant response than FHN subjects; however, contrary to our initial hypothesis, there was no significant difference in antidepressant efficacy with riluzole. Although potentially underpowered, there was no difference in overall time-to-relapse based on randomization status (riluzole responders: n = 15, placebo responders: n = 17). Yet, time-to-relapse was longer in FHP placebo responders (n = 8) compared to FHN placebo responders (n = 9) with, again, no significant difference in time-to-relapse in FHP riluzole responders (n = 6) compared to FHN riluzole responders (n = 9).
Conclusions: Ketamine’s extended antidepressant durability in FHP TRD should be considered in the design and analysis of ketamine depression trials.
9. Dopamine D2/D3 but not dopamine D1 receptors are involved in the rapid antidepressant-like effects of ketamine in the forced swim test
•Dopamine D2/D3 receptor but not D1 receptor antagonists prevent the rapid antidepressant-like effect of ketamine.
•Dopamine D2/D3 receptor but not D1 receptor antagonists prevent the rapid antidepressant-like effect of MK-801.
•Co-administration of sub-effective dose of ketamine and dopamine D2/D3 receptor agonist exert antidepressant-like effect.
Major depressive disorder is one of the most prevalent and life-threatening forms of mental illnesses. The traditional antidepressants often take several weeks, even months, to obtain clinical effects. However, recent clinical studies have shown that ketamine, an N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist, exerts rapid antidepressant effects within 2 h and are long-lasting. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether dopaminergic system was involved in the rapid antidepressant effects of ketamine. The acute administration of ketamine (20 mg/kg) significantly reduced the immobility time in the forced swim test. MK-801 (0.1 mg/kg), the more selective NMDA antagonist, also exerted rapid antidepressant-like effects. In contrast, fluoxetine (10 mg/kg) did not significantly reduced the immobility time in the forced swim test after 30 min administration. Notably, pretreatment with haloperidol (0.15 mg/kg, a nonselective dopamine D2/D3 antagonist), but not SCH23390 (0.04 and 0.1 mg/kg, a selective dopamine D1 receptor antagonist), significantly prevented the effects of ketamine or MK-801. Moreover, the administration of sub-effective dose of ketamine (10 mg/kg) in combination with pramipexole (0.3 mg/kg, a dopamine D2/D3 receptor agonist) exerted antidepressant-like effects compared with each drug alone. In conclusion, our results indicated that the dopamine D2/D3 receptors, but not D1 receptors, are involved in the rapid antidepressant-like effects of ketamine.
10. A Randomized Controlled Trial of Intranasal Ketamine in Major Depressive Disorder
The N-methyl-D-aspartate glutamate receptor antagonist ketamine, delivered via an intravenous route, has shown rapid antidepressant effects in patients with treatment-resistant depression. The current study was designed to test the safety, tolerability, and efficacy of intranasal ketamine in patients with depression who had failed at least one prior antidepressant trial.
In a randomized, double-blind, crossover study, 20 patients with major depression were randomly assigned, and 18 completed 2 treatment days with intranasal ketamine hydrochloride (50 mg) or saline solution. The primary efficacy outcome measure was change in depression severity 24 hours after ketamine or placebo, measured using the Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale. Secondary outcomes included persistence of benefit, changes in self-reports of depression, changes in anxiety, and proportion of responders. Potential psychotomimetic, dissociative, hemodynamic, and general adverse effects associated with ketamine were also measured.
Patients showed significant improvement in depressive symptoms at 24 hours after ketamine compared to placebo (t = 4.39, p < .001; estimated mean Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale score difference of 7.6 ± 3.7; 95% confidence interval, 3.9–11.3). Response criteria were met by 8 of 18 patients (44%) 24 hours after ketamine administration compared with 1 of 18 (6%) after placebo (p = .033). Intranasal ketamine was well tolerated with minimal psychotomimetic or dissociative effects and was not associated with clinically significant changes in hemodynamic parameters.
This study provides the first controlled evidence for the rapid antidepressant effects of intranasal ketamine. Treatment was associated with minimal adverse effects. If replicated, these findings may lead to novel approaches to the pharmacologic treatment of patients with major depression.
11. The mood stabilizer lithium potentiates the antidepressant-like effects and ameliorates oxidative stress induced by acute ketamine in a mouse model of stress.
Evidence suggests that mammalian target of rapamycin activation mediates ketamine’s rapid but transient antidepressant effects and that glycogen synthase kinase-3β inhibits this pathway. However, ketamine has associated psychotomimetic effects and a high risk of abuse. The mood stabilizer lithium is a glycogen synthase kinase-3 inhibitor with strong antisuicidal properties. Here, we used a mouse stress model to investigate whether adjunct lithium treatment would potentiate ketamine’s antidepressant-like effects.
Mice received chronic restraint stress and long-term pre- or postketamine lithium treatment in drinking water. The effects of lithium on ketamine-induced antidepressant-like effects, activation of the mammalian target of rapamycin/brain-derived neurotrophic factor signaling pathways, oxidative stress, and dendritic spine density in the brain of mice were investigated.
Subtherapeutic (600 mg/L) lithium-pretreated mice exhibited an antidepressant-like response to an ineffective ketamine (2.5 mg/kg, intraperitoneally) challenge in the forced swim test. Both the antidepressant-like effects and restoration of dendritic spine density in the medial prefrontal cortex of stressed mice induced by a single ketamine (50 mg/kg) injection were sustained by postketamine treatment with 1200 mg/L of lithium for at least 2 weeks. These benefits of lithium treatments were associated with activation of the mammalian target of rapamycin/brain-derived neurotrophic factor signaling pathways in the prefrontal cortex. Acute ketamine (50 mg/kg) injection also significantly increased lipid peroxidation, catalase activity, and oxidized glutathione levels in stressed mice. Notably, these oxidative stress markers were completely abolished by pretreatment with 1200 mg/L of lithium.
Our results suggest a novel therapeutic strategy and justify the use of lithium in patients who benefit from ketamine.
Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of CINP 2015. This work is written by (a) US Government employee(s) and is in the public domain in the US.
12. Ketamine and suicidal ideation in depression: Jumping the gun?
Depression and suicide are known to be intricately entwined but the neurobiological basis underlying this association is yet to be understood. Ketamine is an N-methyl d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist used for induction and maintenance of general anaesthesia but paradoxically its euphoric effects lead to its classification under drugs of abuse. The serendipitous finding of rapid-onset antidepressant action of subanaesthetic dosing with ketamine by intravenous infusion has sparked many preclinical and clinical investigations. A remarkable suppression of suicidal ideation was also reported in depressed patients. This review focuses on the clinical trials on ketamine that reported remedial effects in suicidal ideation in depression and addresses also the molecular mechanisms underlying the antidepressant and psychotomimetic actions of ketamine. The neuropsychiatric profile of subanaesthetic doses of ketamine encourages its use in the management of suicidal ideation that could avert emergent self-harm or suicide. Finally, the need for neuroimaging studies in suicidal patients to identify the brain region specific and temporal effects of ketamine, and the possibility of employing ketamine as an experimental tool in rodent-based studies to study the mechanisms underlying suicidal behaviour are highlighted.
13. Shank3 as a potential biomarker of antidepressant response to ketamine and its neural correlates in bipolar depression
Shank3, a post-synaptic density protein involved in N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor tethering and dendritic spine rearrangement, is implicated in the pathophysiology of bipolar disorder. We hypothesized that elevated baseline plasma Shank3 levels might predict antidepressant response to the NMDA receptor antagonist ketamine.
Twenty-nine subjects with bipolar depression received a double-blind, randomized, subanesthetic dose (.5 mg/kg) ketamine infusion. Of the patients for whom Shank3 levels were collected, 15 completed baseline 3-Tesla MRI and 17 completed post-ketamine [18F]-FDG PET.
Higher baseline Shank3 levels predicted antidepressant response at Days 1 (r=−.39,p=.047), 2 (r=−.45, p=.02), and 3 (r=−.42, p=.03) and were associated with larger average (r=.58, p=.02) and right amygdala volume (r=.65, p=.009). Greater baseline Shank3 also predicted increased glucose metabolism in the hippocampus (r=.51, p=.04) and amygdala (r=.58, p=.02).
Limitations include the small sample size, inability to assess the source of peripheral Shank3, and the lack of a placebo group for baseline Shank3 levels and comparative structural/functional neuroimaging.
Shank3 is a potential biomarker of antidepressant response to ketamine that correlates with baseline amygdala volume and increased glucose metabolism in the amygdala and hippocampus.
14. Improvement in suicidal ideation after ketamine infusion: Relationship to reductions in depression and anxiety
•We investigated the effects of ketamine on suicidal ideation across clinical trials.
•Suicidal ideation, as independent from depression or anxiety, was evaluated.
•Depression accounted a limited amount of variance of change in suicidal thoughts.
•Ketamine had an effect on suicidal thoughts independent of depression and anxiety.
•Anxiety may be an important treatment target for suicide risk.
Suicide is a psychiatric emergency. Currently, there are no approved pharmacologic treatments for suicidal ideation. Ketamine is an N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist that rapidly reduces suicidal ideation as well as depression and anxiety, but the dynamic between these symptoms is not known. The aim of this analysis was to evaluate whether ketamine has an impact on suicidal thoughts, independent of depressive and anxiety symptoms.
133 patients with treatment-resistant depression (major depressive disorder or bipolar I/II disorder) received a single subanesthetic infusion of ketamine (0.5 mg/kg over 40 min). Post-hoc correlations and linear mixed models evaluated the relationship between suicidal ideation and depression and anxiety symptoms using the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAMD), Scale for Suicidal Ideation (SSI), Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), and Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale (HAMA) focusing on 230 min post-infusion.
At 230 min post-infusion, correlations between changes in suicidal ideation and depression ranged from 0.23 to 0.44 (p < .05), accounting for up to 19% in the variance of ideation change. Correlations with anxiety ranged from 0.23 to 0.40 (p < .05), accounting for similar levels of variance. Ketamine infusion was associated with significant reductions in suicidal ideation compared to placebo, when controlling for the effects of ketamine on depression (F1,587 = 10.31, p = .001) and anxiety (F1,567 = 8.54, p = .004).
Improvements in suicidal ideation after ketamine infusion are related to, but not completely driven by, improvements in depression and anxiety. Investigation of the specific effects of ketamine on suicidal thoughts is warranted.