The anti-inflammatory effects of ketamine: state of the art

Acta Anaesthesiol Belg. 2011;62(1):47-58.


Inflammation is a major component in keeping the body in homeostasis. However, an overwhelmed inflammatory response may be associated to a loss of this homeostatic status, which may lead to tissue injury or organ dysfunction. A huge number of drugs interacts with the inflammatory response in a positive, negative or "dual" manner. Among these drugs, ketamine seems to have a significant positive effect on the regulation of inflammation. This NMDA-receptor antagonist acts at different levels of inflammation, interacting with inflammatory cells recrutment, cytokins production, and inflammatory mediators regulation. The resultant effect of these interactions confers to ketamine a anti-proinflammatory effect by limiting exacerbation of systemic inflammation without affecting local healing processes. This review makes a complete overview of the immunomodulatory properties of this complex anesthetic substance.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Cyclooxygenase 2 Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate / drug effects
  • Ketamine / pharmacology*
  • Neurosecretory Systems / drug effects
  • Nitric Oxide / biosynthesis
  • Vagus Nerve / drug effects


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Cyclooxygenase 2 Inhibitors
  • Cytokines
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Ketamine