Targeting glutamate signalling in depression: progress and prospects

This review (2017) examines the history, rationale, and efficacy of glutamate-modulating agents in treating depression. Ketamine has emerged as the prototypical fast-acting antidepressant and has yielded compelling hypotheses about the role of glutamate, although the role of its effects on NMDA receptor inhibition still remains unclear as to whether it alleviates depression. Preliminary evidence also suggests that ketamine-like drugs exert antidepressant properties by regulating monoamine signaling, opioid signaling, inflammatory systems, or even epigenetic mechanisms.


“Major depressive disorder (MDD) is severely disabling, and current treatments have limited efficacy. The glutamate N‑methyl-d‑aspartate receptor (NMDAR) antagonist ketamine was recently repurposed as a rapidly acting antidepressant, catalysing the vigorous investigation of glutamate-signalling modulators as novel therapeutic agents for depressive disorders. In this Review, we discuss the progress made in the development of such modulators for the treatment of depression, and examine recent preclinical and translational studies that have investigated the mechanisms of action of glutamate-targeting antidepressants. Fundamental questions remain regarding the future prospects of this line of drug development, including questions concerning safety and tolerability, efficacy, dose–response relationships and therapeutic mechanisms.”

Authors: James W. Murrough, Chadi G. Abdallah, and Sanjay J. Mathew

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Targeting glutamate signalling in depression: progress and prospects

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Published in
Academic Psychiatry
March 17, 2021
234 citations

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