Background: Treatments for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) usually lead to incomplete symptom relief and take a long-time to reach full effect. Convergent evidence suggests that glutamate abnormalities contribute to the pathogenesis of OCD. Ketamine is a potent noncompetitive antagonist of the N-methyl-D-aspartate glutamate receptor. Trials have reported rapid antidepressant effects after low-dose ketamine infusion.
Methods: We conducted an open-label trial of ketamine (.5 mg/kg IV over 40 min) in 10 subjects with treatment-refractory OCD. Response was defined as >35% improvement in OCD symptoms and >50% improvement in depression symptoms from baseline at any time between 1 and 3 days after infusion.
Results: None of 10 subjects experienced a response in OCD symptoms in the first 3 days after ketamine. Four of seven patients with comorbid depression experienced an antidepressant response to ketamine in the first 3 days after infusion. Both OCD and depression symptoms demonstrated a statistically significant improvement in the first 3 days after infusion compared with baseline, but the OCD response was <12%. The percentage reduction in depressive symptoms in the first 3 days after ketamine infusion was significantly greater than the reduction in OCD symptoms.
Conclusions: Ketamine effects on OCD symptoms, in contrast to depressive symptoms, did not seem to persist or progress after the acute effects of ketamine had dissipated.
Copyright © 2012 Society of Biological Psychiatry. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.