Identification of an optimal dose of intravenous ketamine for late-life treatment-resistant depression: a Bayesian adaptive randomization trial

This double-blind, randomized study (n=33) sought to identify the optimal dose of intravenous ketamine for late-life (mean age=62) treatment-resistant depression (TRD). Varying doses of ketamine (0.1 mg/kg-0.5 mg/kg) were compared to an active placebo (midazolam 0.03 mg/kg). It was found that 0.5 mg/kg is an effective initial IV ketamine dose in TRD.


“Evidence supporting specific therapies for late-life treatment-resistant depression (LL-TRD) is necessary. This study used Bayesian adaptive randomization to determine the optimal dose for the probability of treatment response (≥50% improvement from baseline on the Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale) 7 days after a 40 min intravenous (IV) infusion of ketamine 0.1 mg/kg (KET 0.1), 0.25 mg/kg (KET 0.25), or 0.5 mg/kg (KET 0.5), compared to midazolam 0.03 mg/kg (MID) as an active placebo. The goal of this study was to identify the best dose to carry forward into a larger clinical trial. Response durability at day 28, safety and tolerability, and effects on cortical excitation/inhibition (E/I) ratio using resting electroencephalography gamma and alpha power, were also determined. Thirty-three medication-free US military veterans (mean age 62; range: 55-72; 10 female) with LL-TRD were randomized double-blind. The trial was terminated when dose superiority was established. All interventions were safe and well-tolerated. Pre-specified decision rules terminated KET 0.1 (N = 4) and KET 0.25 (N = 5) for inferiority. Posterior probability was 0.89 that day-seven treatment response was superior for KET 0.5 (N = 11; response rate = 70%) compared to MID (N = 13; response rate = 46%). Persistent treatment response at day 28 was superior for KET 0.5 (response rate = 82%) compared to MID (response rate = 37%). KET 0.5 had high posterior probability of increased frontal gamma power (posterior probability = 0.99) and decreased posterior alpha power (0.89) during infusion, suggesting an acute increase in E/I ratio. These results suggest that 0.5 mg/kg is an effective initial IV ketamine dose in LL-TRD, although further studies in individuals older than 75 are required.”

Authors: Marijn Lijffijt, Nicholas Murphy, Sidra Iqbal, Charles E. Green, Tabish Iqbal, Lee C. Chang, Colin N. Haile, Nithya Ramakrishnan, Dylan A. Fall, Alan C. Swann, Rayan K. Al Jurdi & Sanjay J. Mathew

Study details

Compounds studied

Topics studied
Treatment-Resistant Depression Depression

Study characteristics
Double-Blind Randomized

33 Humans

Compound Details

The psychedelics given at which dose and how many times

Ketamine 0.1 - 0.5