Yale University scientists report that the anesthetic ketamine may ward off overeating and depression symptoms in patients who do not respond to typically used antidepressant agents.
Often abused as a recreational drug, the anesthetic ketamine may bypass depression as under laboratory conditions it was shown it can reduce chronic overeating as a result of chronic stress, underlying factor of depression.
Such research involving ketamine has been conducted at Yale University before. Nonetheless, the authors of the study published in the Neuropsychopharmacology journal draw attention that while the anesthetic ketamine may ward off overeating and depression symptoms, its role is still under research in clinical trials.
The new research looked at the link between depression and overeating as a result of chronic stress. Anesthetic ketamine could ease depression-linked symptoms and causes. The main pathway through which ketamine works is thought to be the activation of a pathway regulating the proteins active in synaptic connections. The mTORC pathway as regulates the proteins which protect the synaptic connections. These are sure targets for chronic stress leading to depression.
The mTORC pathway is also keeping metabolism as well as energy levels in check. An affected mTORC pathway is linked to a number of metabolic disorders, including type 2 diabetes. In turn, type 2 diabetes is also linked to a higher depression risk.
To test the role of the anesthetic ketamine in warding off depression symptoms, the Yale University research team conducted an experiment on mice. For four months the mice were fed a high-fat diet. It was observed that following this period, the metabolism of the mice was disrupted. At the same time, synaptic connections suffered from the high-fat diet. As a result, the mice were exhibiting anxiety and depression symptoms.
When administered a low-dose of the anesthetic ketamine, these disruptions reversed. mTORC pathways were restored to ensure synaptic connections work properly. At the same time, anxiety levels dropped and energy levels rose.
Thus, the researchers concluded that the anesthetic ketamine may ward off overeating and depression symptoms. Nonetheless, ketamine and its role in alleviating depression symptoms with patients who do not respond to usual medication need to be studied further.
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