Antisuicidal effect, BDNF Val66Met polymorphism, and low-dose ketamine infusion: Reanalysis of adjunctive ketamine study of Taiwanese patients with treatment-resistant depression (AKSTP-TRD)

Mu-Hong Chen, Wei-Chen Lin, Hui-Ju Wu, Chih-Ming Cheng, Cheng-Ta Li, Chen-Jee Hong, Pei-Chi Tu, Ya-Mei Bai, Shih-Jen Tsai, Tung-Ping Su
Journal of Affective Disorders 2019 May 15, 251: 162-169

BACKGROUND: Growing evidence suggests a rapid antisuicidal effect of low-dose ketamine infusion in Caucasian patients with treatment-resistant depression (TRD). However, the antisuicidal effects of ketamine on Taiwanese patients with TRD remains unknown.

METHODS: Seventy-one patients with TRD were randomly classified into three treatment groups: 0.5 mg/kg ketamine, 0.2 mg/kg ketamine, or normal saline (placebo) infusion. The Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAMD) and Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) were applied prior to initiation of test infusions, at 40, 80, 120, and 240 min postinfusion, and sequentially on Days 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 14 after ketamine or placebo infusion. Item 3 (suicide) of the HAMD and item 10 (suicidal thoughts) of the MADRS were extracted for generalized estimating equation (GEE) model analyses to investigate the antisuicidal effects of ketamine infusion. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) Val66Met polymorphism was genotyped.

RESULTS: The GEE model revealed significant group (p = 0.007) and time (p = 0.004) effects on suicidal symptoms over times (prior to infusion to day 14 postinfusion). The group that received 0.5 mg/kg ketamine infusion exhibited a significantly lower score in item 3 of the HAMD and item 10 of the MADRS compared with the groups that received 0.2 mg/kg ketamine or placebo infusion. Among those carrying any Val allele of BDNF, both 0.5 and 0.2 mg/kg ketamine infusions were effective in reducing suicidal thoughts; however, among those with Met/Met of BDNF, only 0.5 mg/kg ketamine infusion was effective in reducing suicidal thoughts.

DISCUSSION: A single low-dose ketamine infusion was effective in reducing suicidal ideation among Taiwanese patients with TRD. BDNF Val66Met polymorphism may play a crucial role in the antisuicidal effects of ketamine infusion.

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