Ketamine’s antidepressant effect is mediated by energy metabolism and antioxidant defense system

This study (2017) examined the hippocampi of mice treated with ketamine in order to ascertain which pathways the drug affected. The researchers found, among other things, that ketamine tended to downregulate the ATP/ADP metabolite ratio.


“Fewer than 50% of all patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) treated with currently available antidepressants (ADs) show full remission. Moreover, about one third of the patients suffering from MDD does not respond to conventional ADs and develop treatment-resistant depression (TRD). Ketamine, a non-competitive, voltage-dependent N-Methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) antagonist, has been shown to have a rapid antidepressant effect, especially in patients suffering from TRD. Hippocampi of ketamine-treated mice were analysed by metabolome and proteome profiling to delineate ketamine treatment-affected molecular pathways and biosignatures. Our data implicate mitochondrial energy metabolism and the antioxidant defense system as downstream effectors of the ketamine response. Specifically, ketamine tended to downregulate the adenosine triphosphate (ATP)/adenosine diphosphate (ADP) metabolite ratio which strongly correlated with forced swim test (FST) floating time. Furthermore, we found increased levels of enzymes that are part of the ‘oxidative phosphorylation’ (OXPHOS) pathway. Our study also suggests that ketamine causes less protein damage by rapidly decreasing reactive oxygen species (ROS) production and lend further support to the hypothesis that mitochondria have a critical role for mediating antidepressant action including the rapid ketamine response.”

Authors: Katja Weckmann, Michael J. Deery, Julie A. Howard, Renata Feret, John M. Asara, Frederik Dethloff, Michaela D. Filiou, Jamie Iannace, Christiana Labermaier, Giuseppina Maccarrone, Christian Webhofer, Larysa Teplytska, Kathryn Lilley, Marianne B. Müller & Christoph W. Turck

Study details

Compounds studied

Topics studied
Neuroscience Immunity

Study characteristics
Animal Study

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