A new study has shown that intravenous ketamine can improve depression symptoms in patients with treatment-resistant depression.
Published in Nature, the study Rapid neuroplasticity changes and response to intravenous ketamine: a randomized controlled trial in treatment-resistant depression shows that ketamine treatments can rapidly increase neuroplasticity.
Intravenous ketamine is posited to rapidly reverse depression by rapidly enhancing neuroplasticity. In human patients, we quantified gray matter microstructural changes on a rapid (24-h) timescale within key regions where neuroplasticity enhancements post-ketamine have been implicated in animal models.
Evidence has shown that ketamine has strong anti-depressant effects, as well as increased neuroplasticity effects in rodent studies. This study aimed to administer ketamine treatments in patients with treatment-resistant depression and then scan brain regions connected to neuroplasticity.
In the current study, we measured DTI-MD in depression-relevant brain regions (BA10, amygdala, hippocampus, and ventral ACC) before and 24-h following the administration of IV ketamine (0.5 mg/kg) … We hypothesized that individual differences in region-specific changes in DTI-MD would predict the response to treatment primarily in patients receiving ketamine, with larger clinical improvements following ketamine tracking with greater degrees of structural change, putatively reflecting neuroplasticity enhancement.
Intravenous ketamine was given to 98 adults with severe depression symptoms and having failed traditional depression treatments. Results showed that patients with increased neuroplasticity (measured by brain scans) were also associated with improved depression scores.
The theory, supported by findings from this study and other rodent trials, is that depressed patients have reduced neuroplasticity and that psychedelics like ketamine can help create conditions for increased neuroplasticity and thus improved therapeutic outcomes.
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