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Ketamine in the Treatment of Depression

Information source: Columbia University
ClinicalTrials.gov processed this data on August 23, 2015
Link to the current ClinicalTrials.gov record.

Condition(s) targeted: Major Depressive Disorder

Intervention: Ketamine (Drug); Ketamine (Drug); Ketamine (Drug); Ketamine (Drug); Ketamine (Drug); Saline (Drug)

Phase: Phase 2

Status: Active, not recruiting

Sponsored by: Columbia University

Official(s) and/or principal investigator(s):
Matthew S. Milak, M.D., Principal Investigator, Affiliation: Columbia University


Depressed patients will be offered experimental treatment with a new, potentially fast-acting antidepressant called ketamine while being scanned by an MRI to measure the chemical effect of the drug. Ketamine will be given in a dose of 0. 0 (placebo), 0. 1, 0. 2, 0. 3, 0. 4, or 0. 5 mg/kg. If a patient does not respond to ketamine after the first infusion, it may be because s/he received ketamine placebo or the dose of ketamine was too low. In that case, an optional second scan and infusion of active ketamine (0. 5 mg/kg) will be offered. This second scan will occur no later than weeks after the first scan/infusion (as scheduling permits). There is no guarantee that the patient will respond to the second ketamine infusion. Patients enrolled in the study are eligible for up to 6 months treatment with their study psychiatrist after the ketamine infusion(s). During this time, patients will be responsible for the cost of the conventional antidepressants but all doctors' visits will be free of charge. Healthy Volunteers: Healthy controls will receive an infusion of ketamine at a single dose (0. 5 mg/kg). Volunteers will only receive one MRI scan and infusion.

Clinical Details

Official title: The Antidepressant Action of Ketamine: Brain Chemistry

Study design: Allocation: Randomized, Endpoint Classification: Efficacy Study, Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment, Masking: Double Blind (Subject, Investigator, Outcomes Assessor), Primary Purpose: Treatment

Primary outcome: Ketamine Dose-Response Curve

Detailed description: Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a common illness, affecting over 14 million American adults each year. MDD is a leading cause of disability worldwide, and is responsible for huge workplace and healthcare costs. The several week delay between onset of treatment and improvement in MDD symptoms with currently available treatments further increases the burden of the disorder. Shortening this delay is a major unmet challenge in the treatment of MDD. Studies report that a single intravenous low dose of a drug called ketamine can bring about substantial improvement in depression in hours, even in patients that have not improved with other antidepressant treatments. Certain aspects of ketamine's drug action are fairly well understood, but the question remains of how these properties relate to antidepressant effect. Our preliminary data support the rapid antidepressant benefit from ketamine. The investigators have used a scanner to measure the effects of ketamine on two major brain chemical transmitters and found that it causes a significant increase (more than 60%) in glutamate (Glu) and gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) levels in the front of the brain. The investigators hypothesize that this increase in Glu and GABA levels, is responsible for the antidepressant action of the medication. Knowing how ketamine works could help to develop better medications that can be used orally and used for maintenance of the improvement seen with ketamine. The objective of the proposed dose finding study is to examine the relationship between the ketamine-induced improvement of MDD and the Glu and GABA responses to ketamine and to compare the Glu and GABA responses to ketamine in MDD and healthy subjects to better understand the pathophysiology of MDD. To achieve these aims this the investigators propose a randomized, placebo-controlled, double blind study with several different doses of ketamine. The investigators will conduct MRI scans to measure Glu and GABA before and during the ketamine treatment.


Minimum age: 18 Years. Maximum age: 65 Years. Gender(s): Both.


INCLUSION CRITERIA: 1. Must be currently depressed EXCLUSION CRITERIA: 1. No history of other major psychiatric illnesses 2. No history of drug abuse

Locations and Contacts

Columbia University/New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, New York 10032, United States
Additional Information

Ketamine in the Treatment of Depression

Starting date: February 2012
Last updated: June 4, 2015

Page last updated: August 23, 2015

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