A chemical byproduct, or metabolite, created as the body breaks down ketamine likely holds the secret to its rapid antidepressant action, National Institutes of Health (NIH) scientists and grantees have discovered.
The NIH study found that this metabolite singularly reversed depression-like behaviors in mice without triggering any of the anesthetic, dissociative, or addictive side effects associated with ketamine.
“This discovery fundamentally changes our understanding of how this rapid antidepressant mechanism works and holds promise for development of more robust and safer treatments,” said Carlos Zarate, M.D. of the NIH’s National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), a study co-author and a pioneer of research using ketamine to treat depression.
“Now that we know that ketamine’s antidepressant actions in mice are due to a metabolite, not ketamine itself, the next steps are to confirm that it works similarly in humans, and determine if it can lead to improved therapeutics for patients,” explained Todd Gould, M.D., of the University of Maryland School of Medicine [Read more…] about NIH Breakthrough: Ketamine Lifts Depression Via a Byproduct of its Metabolism