OPEN Foundation

J. Krystal

Ketamine: A Paradigm Shift for Depression Research and Treatment

Abstract

Ketamine is the first exemplar of a rapid-acting antidepressant with efficacy for treatment-resistant symptoms of mood disorders. Its discovery emerged from a reconceptualization of the biology of depression. Neurobiological insights into ketamine efficacy shed new light on the mechanisms underlying antidepressant efficacy.
Krystal, J. H., Abdallah, C. G., Sanacora, G., Charney, D. S., & Duman, R. S. (2019). Ketamine: A Paradigm Shift for Depression Research and Treatment. Neuron101(5), 774-778., 10.1016/j.neuron.2019.02.005
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Association of Combined Naltrexone and Ketamine With Depressive Symptoms in a Case series of Patients With Depression and Alcohol Use Disorder

Abstract

Ketamine has rapid and robust antidepressant effects. However, there are concerns about the abuse liability of ketamine. This concern was heightened recently owing to a preliminary report suggesting that antidepressant effects of ketamine might be dependent on opiate receptor stimulation. Below, we present pilot data that indicate that the antidepressant effects of ketamine are not attenuated by naltrexone pretreatment. As a result, the combination of opiate receptor antagonism with ketamine might be a strategy to reduce addiction risk among patients with depression at risk for substance abuse.

Yoon, G., Petrakis, I. L., & Krystal, J. H. (2019). Association of Combined Naltrexone and Ketamine With Depressive Symptoms in a Case series of Patients With Depression and Alcohol Use Disorder. JAMA psychiatry., 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2018.3990.
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Synaptic Loss and the Pathophysiology of PTSD: Implications for Ketamine as a Prototype Novel Therapeutic

Abstract

PURPOSE OF REVIEW:
Studies of the neurobiology and treatment of PTSD have highlighted many aspects of the pathophysiology of this disorder that might be relevant to treatment. The purpose of this review is to highlight the potential clinical importance of an often-neglected consequence of stress models in animals that may be relevant to PTSD: the stress-related loss of synaptic connectivity.
RECENT FINDINGS:
Here, we will briefly review evidence that PTSD might be a “synaptic disconnection syndrome” and highlight the importance of this perspective for the emerging therapeutic application of ketamine as a potential rapid-acting treatment for this disorder that may work, in part, by restoring synaptic connectivity. Synaptic disconnection may contribute to the profile of PTSD symptoms that may be targeted by novel pharmacotherapeutics.
Krystal, J. H., Abdallah, C. G., Averill, L. A., Kelmendi, B., Harpaz-Rotem, I., Sanacora, G., … & Duman, R. S. (2017). Synaptic loss and the pathophysiology of PTSD: implications for ketamine as a prototype novel therapeutic. Current Psychiatry Reports19(10), 74. 10.1007/s11920-017-0829-z
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Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: An Integrated Overview of the Neurobiological Rationale for Pharmacology

Abstract

Thirty years of research on the biology of posttraumatic stress disorder now provides a foundation for hypotheses related to the mechanisms underlying the pharmacotherapy of this disorder. Only two medications, sertraline and paroxetine, are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of PTSD. Although these medications are somewhat effective, other treatment mechanisms must be explored to address the unmet need for effective treatment. This article provides a concise summary of advances in our understanding of the neurobiology of PTSD and novel approaches to pharmacotherapy.
Kelmendi, B., Adams, T. G., Southwick, S., Abdallah, C. G., & Krystal, J. H. (2017). Posttraumatic stress disorder: An integrated overview of the neurobiological rationale for pharmacology. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice. 10.1111/cpsp.12202
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Dose-Related Effects of Adjunctive Ketamine in Taiwanese Patients with Treatment-Resistant Depression

Abstract

The antidepressant effects of ketamine are thought to depend on brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) genotype and dose. The purpose of this study was to characterize the dose-related antidepressant effects of ketamine in patients with treatment-resistant depression drawn from a Chinese population predominately possessing lower activity BDNF genotypes (Val/Met, Met/Met). We conducted a double-blind, randomized, parallel-group, placebo-controlled trial of a single ketamine infusion (saline, 0.2 mg/kg, 0.5 mg/kg). Patients (N=71; BDNF genotype: Val/Val (N=12, 17%), Val/Met (N=40, 56.3%), and Met/Met (N=19, 26.8%)) received mood ratings before infusion, after infusion, and for the subsequent 14 days. Plasma ketamine levels and BDNF genotypes were assessed. This study found a significant dose-related ketamine effect on scores on the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAMD). The responder analysis (>50% reduction from baseline HAMD on at least 2 days between days 2 and 5) also revealed a significant dose-related effect (saline: 12.5%, 0.2 mg/kg: 39.1%; 0.5 mg/kg: 45.8%). This is the first report to our knowledge to demonstrate the dose-related efficacy of R/S-ketamine for treatment-resistant depression and the first to characterize ketamine effects in a genotyped Chinese population in which most (83%) patients possessed at least one copy of the lower functioning Met allele of the BDNF gene.
Su, T. P., Chen, M. H., Li, C. T., Lin, W. C., Hong, C. J., Gueorguieva, R., … & Krystal, J. H. (2017). Dose-Related Effects of Adjunctive Ketamine in Taiwanese Patients with Treatment-Resistant Depression. Neuropsychopharmacology. 10.1038/npp.2017.94
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Changes in Resting-State Global Brain Connectivity in LSD-Induced Altered States of Consciousness are Attributable to the 5-HT2A Receptor

Preller, K., Schleifer, C., Stämpfli, P., Krystal, J., Vollenweider, F., & Anticevic, A. (2017). 951-Changes in Resting-State Global Brain Connectivity in LSD-Induced Altered States of Consciousness are Attributable to the 5-HT2A Receptor. Biological Psychiatry, 81(10), S385. 10.1016/j.biopsych.2017.02.677
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Prefrontal Connectivity and Glutamate Transmission: Relevance to Depression Pathophysiology and Ketamine Treatment

Abstract

Background

Prefrontal global brain connectivity with global signal regression (GBCr) was proposed as a robust biomarker of depression and was associated with ketamine’s mechanism of action. Here, we investigated prefrontal GBCr in treatment-resistant depression (TRD) at baseline and following treatment. Then, we conducted a set of pharmacological challenges in healthy subjects to investigate the glutamate neurotransmission correlates of GBCr.

Methods

In the cohort A study, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging to compare GBCr between 22 patients with TRD and 29 healthy control subjects. Then, we examined the effects of ketamine and midazolam on GBCr in patients with TRD 24 hours posttreatment. In the cohort B study, we acquired repeated functional magnetic resonance imaging in 18 healthy subjects to determine the effects of lamotrigine (a glutamate release inhibitor), ketamine, and lamotrigine-by-ketamine interaction.

Results

In the cohort A study, patients with TRD showed significant reduction in dorsomedial and dorsolateral prefrontal GBCr compared with healthy control subjects. In patients with TRD, GBCr in the altered clusters significantly increased 24 hours following ketamine (effect size = 1.0, confidence interval = 0.3 to 1.8) but not following midazolam (effect size = 0.5, confidence interval = −0.6 to 1.3). In the cohort B study, oral lamotrigine reduced GBCr 2 hours postadministration, while ketamine increased medial prefrontal GBCr during infusion. Lamotrigine significantly reduced the ketamine-induced GBCr surge. Exploratory analyses showed elevated ventral prefrontal GBCr in TRD and significant reduction of ventral prefrontal GBCr during ketamine infusion in healthy subjects.

Conclusions

This study provides the first replication of the ability of ketamine to normalize depression-related prefrontal dysconnectivity. It also provides indirect evidence that these effects may be triggered by the capacity of ketamine to enhance glutamate neurotransmission.

Abdallah, C. G., Averill, C. L., Salas, R., Averill, L. A., Baldwin, P. R., Krystal, J. H., … & Mathalon, D. H. (2017). Prefrontal Connectivity & Glutamate Transmission: Relevance to Depression Pathophysiology and Ketamine Treatment. Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging. 10.1016/j.bpsc.2017.04.006
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The role of psychedelics in palliative care reconsidered: A case for psilocybin

Kelmendi, B., Corlett, P., Ranganathan, M., D’Souza, C., & Krystal, J. H. (2016). The role of psychedelics in palliative care reconsidered: A case for psilocybin. Journal of psychopharmacology (Oxford, England), 30(12), 1212. 10.1177/0269881116675781
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Perceptual distortions and delusional thinking following ketamine administration are related to increased pharmacological MRI signal changes in the parietal lobe

Abstract

Ketamine produces effects in healthy humans that resemble the positive, negative and cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia. We investigated the effect of ketamine administration on brain activity as indexed by blood-oxygen-level-dependent (BOLD) signal change response, and its relationship to ketamine-induced subjective changes, including perceptual distortion. Thirteen healthy participants volunteered for the study. All underwent a 15-min functional MRI acquisition with a ketamine infusion commencing after 5 min (approx 0.26 mg/kg over 20s followed by an infusion of approx. 0.42 mg/kg/h). Following the scan, participants self-rated ketamine-induced effects using the Psychotomimetic States Inventory. Ketamine led to widespread cortical and subcortical increases in BOLD response (FWE-corrected p < 0.01). Self-rated perceptual distortions and delusional thoughts correlated with increased BOLD response in the paracentral lobule (FWE-corrected p < 0.01). The findings suggest that BOLD increases in parietal cortices reflect ketamine effects on circuits that contribute to its capacity to produce perceptual alterations and delusional interpretations.

Stone, J., Kotoula, V., Dietrich, C., De Simoni, S., Krystal, J. H., & Mehta, M. A. (2015). Perceptual distortions and delusional thinking following ketamine administration are related to increased pharmacological MRI signal changes in the parietal lobe. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 0269881115592337. https://dx.doi.org/
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Ketamine as a promising prototype for a new generation of rapid-acting antidepressants

Abstract

The discovery of ketamine’s rapid and robust antidepressant effects opened a window into a new generation of antidepressants. Multiple controlled trials and open-label studies have demonstrated these effects across a variety of patient populations known to often achieve little to no response from traditional antidepressants. Ketamine has been generally well tolerated across patient groups, with transient mild-to-moderate adverse effects during infusion. However, the optimal dosing and route of administration and the safety of chronic treatment are not fully known. This review summarizes the clinical effects of ketamine and its neurobiological underpinnings and mechanisms of action, which may provide insight into the neurobiology of depression, relevant biomarkers, and treatment targets. Moreover, we offer suggestions for future research that may continue to advance the field forward and ultimately improve the psychopharmacologic interventions available for those individuals struggling with depressive and trauma-related disorders.

Abdallah, C. G., Averill, L. A. and Krystal, J. H. (2015), Ketamine as a promising prototype for a new generation of rapid-acting antidepressants. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1344: 66–77. doi: 10.1111/nyas.12718

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30 April - Q&A with Rick Strassman

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