Sub-anesthetic ketamine produces rapid antidepressant effects in patients with bipolar and unipolar major depression where conventional monoaminergic-based antidepressant drugs have been ineffective or ridden with side effects. A single ketamine infusion can produce antidepressant effects lasting up to two weeks, and multiple ketamine infusions prolong this effect. Pre-clinical studies are underway to uncover ketamine’s mechanisms of action, but there are still many questions unanswered regarding the safety of its long-term use. Abuse liability is one area of concern, as recreational ketamine use is an ongoing issue in many parts of the world. Another understudied area is sex differences in responsivity to ketamine. Women are twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with depression, and they progress through stages of drug addiction more rapidly than their male counterparts. Despite this, preclinical studies in ketamine’s antidepressant and addictive-like behaviors in females are limited. These intersecting factors in recent clinical and pre-clinical studies are reviewed to characterize ketamine’s therapeutic potential, its limitations, and its potential mechanisms of action.
Wright, K. N., & Kabbaj, M. (2018). Sex differences in sub-anesthetic ketamine’s antidepressant effects and abuse liability. Current opinion in behavioral sciences
, 36-41., 10.1016/j.cobeha.2018.02.001
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