Creating a free account will enable you to subscribe to our daily and weekly email newsletters, as well as customize your reading experience to show only the categories most relevant to you.
Signing up only take a few minutes, so why not give it a try and see what you've been missing out on.
Ketamine is a potent anesthetic employed in human and veterinary medicine, and sometimes used illegally as a recreational drug. The drug is also a promising candidate for the fast treatment of depression in patients who do not respond to other medications. New research from the RIKEN Center for Life Science Technologies in Japan demonstrates using PET imaging studies on macaque monkeys that ketamine increases the activity of serotoninergic neurons in the brain areas regulating motivation. The researchers conclude that ketamine's action on serotonin, often dubbed the "feel-good neurotransmitter", may explain its antidepressant action in humans.
The study, published in the journal Translational Psychiatry demonstrates that Positron Emission Tomography (PET) molecular imaging studies may be useful in the diagnosis of major depressive disorder in humans, as well as the development of new antidepressants.
Ketamine has recently been shown to have an antidepressant action with short onset and long-term duration in patients suffering from treatment-resistant major depressive disorder, who do not respond to standard medications such as serotonin reuptake inhibitors, monoamine oxidase inhibitors and tricyclic antidepressants. However, the mechanisms underlying ketamine's action on the depressive brain have remained unclear.
To understand the effects of ketamine on the serotonergic system in the brain, Dr Hajime Yamanaka and Dr Hirotaka Onoe, who has pioneered PET imaging on conscious non-human primates, together with an international team, performed a PET study on rhesus monkeys.
The team performed PET imaging studies on four rhesus monkeys with two tracer molecules related to serotonin (5-HT) that bind highly selectively to the serotonin 1B receptor 5-HT1B and the serotonin transporter SERT.
From the analysis of the 3 dimensional images generated by the PET scans, the researchers could infer that ketamine induces an increase in the binding of serotonin to its receptor 5-HT1B in the nucleus accumbens and the ventral pallidum, but a decrease in binding to its transporter SERT in these brain regions. The nucleus accumbens and the ventral pallidum are brain regions associated with motivation and both have been shown to be involved in depression.
In addition, the researchers demonstrate that treatment with NBQX, a drug known to block the anti-depressive effect of ketamine in rodents by selectively blocking the glutamate AMPA receptor, cancels the action of ketamine on 5-HT1B but not on SERT binding.
Taken together, these findings indicate that ketamine may act as an antidepressant by increasing the expression of postsynaptic 5-HT1B receptors, and that this process is mediated by the glutamate AMPA receptor.
Article adapted by Medical News Today from original press release. Click 'references' tab above for source.
Visit our Depression category page for the latest news on this subject.
Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:
Thought, RIKEN. "Ketamine may act as an antidepressant by boosting serotonin activity in brain areas involved in motivation." Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 9 Jan. 2014. Web.
11 Mar. 2014. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/270917>
Thought, R. (2014, January 9). "Ketamine may act as an antidepressant by boosting serotonin activity in brain areas involved in motivation." Medical News Today. Retrieved from
Please note: If no author information is provided, the source is cited instead.
If you write about specific medications, operations, or procedures please do not name healthcare professionals by name.
For any corrections of factual information, or to contact our editorial team, please use our feedback form. Please send any medical news or health news press releases to:
Note: Any medical information published on this website is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice and you should not take any action before consulting with a health care professional. For more information, please read our terms and conditions.
This page was printed from: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/270917.php
Visit www.medicalnewstoday.com for medical news and health news headlines posted throughout the day, every day.
© 2004-2014 All rights reserved. MNT (logo) is the registered trade mark of MediLexicon International Limited.