Low dose ketamine reduces pain perception and blood pressure, but not muscle sympathetic nerve activity, responses during a cold pressor test

This randomized, crossover, placebo-controlled, lab-based trial (n=22) tested the hypothesis that low dose ketamine blunts perceived pain, and blunts subsequent sympathetic and cardiovascular responses during an experimental noxious stimulus. The authors found that low dose ketamine administration attenuates perceived pain and pressor, but not MSNA burst frequency, responses during a CPT.

Abstract

“Low dose ketamine is an effective analgesic medication. However, our knowledge of the effects of ketamine on autonomic cardiovascular regulation is primarily limited to animal experiments. Notably, it is unknown if low dose ketamine influences autonomic cardiovascular responses during painful stimuli in humans. We tested the hypothesis that low dose ketamine blunts perceived pain, and blunts subsequent sympathetic and cardiovascular responses during an experimental noxious stimulus. Twenty-two adults (10F/12M; 27±6 y; 26±3 kg m-2 , mean±SD) completed this randomized, crossover, placebo-controlled trial during two laboratory visits. During each visit, participants completed cold pressor tests (CPT; hand in ∼0.4°C ice bath for two minutes) pre- and five minutes post-drug administration (20 mg ketamine or saline). We compared pain perception (100 mm visual analog scale), muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA; microneurography, 12 paired recordings) and beat-to-beat blood pressure (BP; photoplethysmography) during the pre- and post-drug CPT’s separately using paired, two-tailed t-tests. For the pre-drug CPT, perceived pain (p = 0.4378), MSNA burst frequency responses (p = 0.7375), and mean BP responses (p = 0.6457) were not different between trials. For the post-drug CPT, ketamine compared to placebo administration attenuated perceived pain (p<0.0001) and mean BP responses (p = 0.0047), but did not attenuate MSNA burst frequency responses (p = 0.3662). Finally, during the post-drug CPT, there was a moderate relation between cardiac output and BP responses after placebo administration (r = 0.53, p = 0.0121), but this relation was effectively absent after ketamine administration (r = -0.12, p = 0.5885). These data suggest that low dose ketamine administration attenuates perceived pain and pressor, but not MSNA burst frequency, responses during a CPT.”

Authors: Joseph C. Watso, Mu Huang, Gilbert Moralez, Matthew N. Cramer, Joseph M. Hendrix, Frank A. Cimino III, Luke N. Belval, Carmen Hinojosa‐Laborde & Craig G. Crandall

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