Rapid inflammation modulation and antidepressant efficacy of a low-dose ketamine infusion in treatment-resistant depression: A randomized, double-blind control study

Mu-Hong Chen, Cheng-Ta Li, Wei-Chen Lin, Chen-Jee Hong, Pei-Chi Tu, Ya-Mei Bai, Chih-Ming Cheng, Tung-Ping Su
Psychiatry Research 2018, 269: 207-211
Increasing evidence supports the rapid antidepressant effect of a low-dose ketamine infusion in treatment-resistant depression (TRD). Proinflammatory cytokines play a crucial role in the pathophysiology of TRD. However, it is unknown whether the rapid antidepressant effect of ketamine is related to the rapid suppression of proinflammatory cytokines. Seventy-one patients with TRD were randomized into three groups according to the treatment received: 0.5 mg/kg ketamine, 0.2 mg/kg ketamine, and normal saline infusion. Proinflammatory markers, including C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin (IL)-6, and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α were examined at baseline and at 40 min, 240 min, Day 3, and Day 7 postinfusion. Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) was assessed for depressive symptoms across time. Log-transformed IL-6 and TNF-α levels differed significantly over time. The decrease in TNF-α between baseline and 40 min postinfusion was positively correlated with a decrease in MADRS scores across time in the 0.5 mg/kg ketamine group. This is the first clinical study to support a positive correlation between changes in cytokine levels after ketamine infusion and improvements in depressive symptoms with TRD. The rapid suppression of proinflammatory cytokines may contribute to the rapid antidepressant effect of the ketamine infusion.

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