Human studies examining the effects of the dissociative anesthetic ketamine as a model for psychosis and as a rapidly acting antidepressant have spurred great interest in understanding ketamine’s actions at molecular, cellular, and network levels. Although ketamine has unequivocal uncompetitive inhibitory effects on N-methyl-d-aspartate receptors (NMDARs) and may preferentially alter the function of NMDARs on interneurons, recent work has questioned whether block of NMDARs is critical for its mood enhancing actions. In this viewpoint, we examine the evolving literature on ketamine supporting NMDARs as important triggers for certain psychiatric effects and the possibility that the antidepressant trigger is unrelated to NMDARs. The rapidly evolving story of ketamine offers great hope for untangling and treating the biology of both depressive and psychotic illnesses.
Zorumski, C. F., Izumi, Y., & Mennerick, S. (2016). Ketamine: NMDA receptors and beyond. Journal of Neuroscience, 36(44), 11158-11164. 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1547-16.2016