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      Rapid‐acting antidepressant ketamine, its metabolites and other candidates: A historical overview and future perspective

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          Major depressive disorder (MDD) is one of the most disabling psychiatric disorders. Approximately one‐third of the patients with MDD are treatment resistant to the current antidepressants. There is also a significant therapeutic time lag of weeks to months. Furthermore, depression in patients with bipolar disorder (BD) is typically poorly responsive to antidepressants. Therefore, there exists an unmet medical need for rapidly acting antidepressants with beneficial effects in treatment‐resistant patients with MDD or BD. Accumulating evidence suggests that the N‐methyl‐D‐aspartate receptor (NMDAR) antagonist ketamine produces rapid and sustained antidepressant effects in treatment‐resistant patients with MDD or BD. Ketamine is a racemic mixture comprising equal parts of ( R)‐ketamine (or arketamine) and ( S)‐ketamine (or esketamine). Because ( S)‐ketamine has higher affinity for NMDAR than ( R)‐ketamine, esketamine was developed as an antidepressant. On 5 March 2019, esketamine nasal spray was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. However, preclinical data suggest that ( R)‐ketamine exerts greater potency and longer‐lasting antidepressant effects than ( S)‐ketamine in animal models of depression and that ( R)‐ketamine has less detrimental side‐effects than ( R,S)‐ketamine or ( S)‐ketamine. In this article, the author reviews the historical overview of the antidepressant actions of enantiomers of ketamine and its major metabolites norketamine and hydroxynorketamine. Furthermore, the author discusses the other potential rapid‐acting antidepressant candidates (i.e., NMDAR antagonists and modulators, low‐voltage‐sensitive T‐type calcium channel inhibitor, potassium channel Kir4.1 inhibitor, negative modulators of γ‐aminobutyric acid, and type A [GABA A] receptors) to compare them with ketamine. Moreover, the molecular and cellular mechanisms of ketamine’s antidepressant effects are discussed.

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          A neurotrophic model for stress-related mood disorders.

          There is a growing body of evidence demonstrating that stress decreases the expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in limbic structures that control mood and that antidepressant treatment reverses or blocks the effects of stress. Decreased levels of BDNF, as well as other neurotrophic factors, could contribute to the atrophy of certain limbic structures, including the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex that has been observed in depressed subjects. Conversely, the neurotrophic actions of antidepressants could reverse neuronal atrophy and cell loss and thereby contribute to the therapeutic actions of these treatments. This review provides a critical examination of the neurotrophic hypothesis of depression that has evolved from this work, including analysis of preclinical cellular (adult neurogenesis) and behavioral models of depression and antidepressant actions, as well as clinical neuroimaging and postmortem studies. Although there are some limitations, the results of these studies are consistent with the hypothesis that decreased expression of BDNF and possibly other growth factors contributes to depression and that upregulation of BDNF plays a role in the actions of antidepressant treatment.
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            NMDA Receptor Blockade at Rest Triggers Rapid Behavioural Antidepressant Responses

            Clinical studies consistently demonstrate that a single sub-psychomimetic dose of ketamine, an ionotropic glutamatergic n-methyl-d-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) antagonist, produces fast-acting antidepressant responses in patients suffering from major depressive disorder (MDD), although the underlying mechanism is unclear 1-3 . Depressed patients report alleviation of MDD symptoms within two hours of a single low-dose intravenous infusion of ketamine with effects lasting up to two weeks 1-3 , unlike traditional antidepressants (i.e. serotonin reuptake inhibitors), which take weeks to reach efficacy. This delay is a major drawback to current MDD therapies, leaving a need for faster acting antidepressants particularly for suicide-risk patients 3 . Ketamine's ability to produce rapidly acting, long-lasting antidepressant responses in depressed patients provides a unique opportunity to investigate underlying cellular mechanisms. We show that ketamine and other NMDAR antagonists produce fast-acting behavioural antidepressant-like effects in mouse models that depend on rapid synthesis of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). We find that ketamine-mediated NMDAR blockade at rest deactivates eukaryotic elongation factor 2 (eEF2) kinase (also called CaMKIII) resulting in reduced eEF2 phosphorylation and desuppression of BDNF translation. Furthermore, we find inhibitors of eEF2 kinase induce fast-acting behavioural antidepressant-like effects. Our findings suggest that protein synthesis regulation by spontaneous neurotransmission may serve as a viable therapeutic target for fast-acting antidepressant development.
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              NMDAR inhibition-independent antidepressant actions of ketamine metabolites

              Major depressive disorder afflicts ~16 percent of the world population at some point in their lives. Despite a number of available monoaminergic-based antidepressants, most patients require many weeks, if not months, to respond to these treatments, and many patients never attain sustained remission of their symptoms. The non-competitive glutamatergic N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) antagonist, (R,S)-ketamine (ketamine), exerts rapid and sustained antidepressant effects following a single dose in depressed patients. Here we show that the metabolism of ketamine to (2S,6S;2R,6R)-hydroxynorketamine (HNK) is essential for its antidepressant effects, and that the (2R,6R)-HNK enantiomer exerts behavioural, electroencephalographic, electrophysiological and cellular antidepressant actions in vivo. Notably, we demonstrate that these antidepressant actions are NMDAR inhibition-independent but they involve early and sustained α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole propionic acid (AMPA) receptor activation. We also establish that (2R,6R)-HNK lacks ketamine-related side-effects. Our results indicate a novel mechanism underlying ketamine’s unique antidepressant properties, which involves the required activity of a distinct metabolite and is independent of NMDAR inhibition. These findings have relevance for the development of next generation, rapid-acting antidepressants.

                Author and article information

                Psychiatry Clin Neurosci
                Psychiatry Clin. Neurosci
                Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences
                John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd (Melbourne )
                11 July 2019
                October 2019
                : 73
                : 10 ( doiID: 10.1111/pcn.v73.10 )
                : 613-627
                [ 1 ] Division of Clinical Neuroscience Chiba University Center for Forensic Mental Health Chiba Japan
                Author notes
                [* ]Correspondence: Email: hashimoto@ 123456faculty.chiba-u.jp
                © 2019 The Author. Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences published by John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd on behalf of Japanese Society of Psychiatry and Neurology

                This is an open access article under the terms of the http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes.

                Page count
                Figures: 3, Tables: 3, Pages: 15, Words: 18181
                Funded by: AMED , open-funder-registry 10.13039/100009619;
                Award ID: JP19dm0107119
                PCN Frontier Review
                PCN Frontier Reviews
                Custom metadata
                October 2019
                Converter:WILEY_ML3GV2_TO_JATSPMC version:5.7.1 mode:remove_FC converted:13.11.2019


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