A randomized trial of a low-trapping nonselective N-methyl-D-aspartate channel blocker in major depression

Carlos A Zarate, Daniel Mathews, Lobna Ibrahim, Jose Franco Chaves, Craig Marquardt, Immaculata Ukoh, Libby Jolkovsky, Nancy E Brutsche, Mark A Smith, David A Luckenbaugh
Biological Psychiatry 2013 August 15, 74 (4): 257-64

BACKGROUND: The high-affinity N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) antagonist ketamine exerts rapid antidepressant effects but has psychotomimetic properties. AZD6765 is a low-trapping NMDA channel blocker with low rates of associated psychotomimetic effects. This study investigated whether AZD6765 could produce rapid antidepressant effects in subjects with treatment-resistant major depressive disorder (MDD).

METHODS: In this double-blind, randomized, crossover, placebo-controlled study, 22 subjects with DSM-IV treatment-resistant MDD received a single infusion of either AZD6765 (150 mg) or placebo on 2 test days 1 week apart. The primary outcome measure was the Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale, which was used to rate overall depressive symptoms at baseline and 60, 80, 110, and 230 min postinfusion and on Days 1, 2, 3, and 7 postinfusion. Several secondary outcome measures were also used, including the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale.

RESULTS: Within 80 min, Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale scores significantly improved in subjects receiving AZD6765 compared with placebo; this improvement remained significant only through 110 min (d = .40). On the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, a drug difference was found at 80 and 110 min and at Day 2 (d = .49). Overall, 32% of subjects responded to AZD6765, and 15% responded to placebo at some point during the trial. No difference was observed between the groups with regard to psychotomimetic or dissociative adverse effects.

CONCLUSIONS: In patients with treatment-resistant MDD, a single intravenous dose of the low-trapping NMDA channel blocker AZD6765 was associated with rapid but short-lived antidepressant effects; no psychotomimetic effects were observed.

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