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Investigation of medical effect of multiple ketamine infusions on patients with major depressive disorder

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Single-dose intravenous ketamine has rapid but time-limited antidepressant effects. We aimed to examine the sustained effects of six consecutive ketamine infusions in Chinese patients with major depressive disorder.


Seventy-seven patients with major depressive disorder were eligible to receive augmentation with six ketamine infusions (0.5 mg/kg over 40 min) administered over the course of 12 days (Monday-Wednesday-Friday). The coprimary outcome measures were the rates of response and remission as measured on the 10-item Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale. Psychotomimetic and dissociative symptoms were measured with the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale-positive symptoms and the Clinician Administered Dissociative States Scale, respectively.


After the first ketamine infusion, only 10 (13.0%) and 6 (7.8%) patients responded and remitted, respectively; after six ketamine infusions, 52 (67.5%) patients responded and 37 (48.1%) remitted. There was a significant mean decrease in Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale score at four hours after the first ketamine infusion (7.0±7.5, p<0.001), and this decrease was maintained for the duration of the infusion period. The response to ketamine treatment was positively associated with no history of psychiatric hospitalization (odds ratio=3.56, p=0.009). Suicidal ideation rapidly decreased across the entire study sample, even among the nonresponder group. No significant differences were found regarding Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale and Clinician Administered Dissociative States Scale scores from the first infusion at baseline to four hours post-infusion.


Six ketamine infusions increased rates of response and remission when compared to a single-dose ketamine infusion in patients with major depressive disorder. Future controlled studies are warranted to confirm and expand these findings.

Zheng, W., Zhou, Y. L., Liu, W. J., Wang, C. Y., Zhan, Y. N., Li, H. Q., … & Ning, Y. P. (2019). Investigation of medical effect of multiple ketamine infusions on patients with major depressive disorder. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 0269881119827811., 10.1177/0269881119827811
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