R (-)-ketamine shows greater potency and longer lasting antidepressant effects than S (+)-ketamine

Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2014 Jan:116:137-41. doi: 10.1016/j.pbb.2013.11.033. Epub 2013 Dec 3.


The N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist ketamine is one of the most attractive antidepressants for treatment-resistant major depressive disorder (MDD). Ketamine (or RS (±)-ketamine) is a racemic mixture containing equal parts of R (-)-ketamine and S (+)-ketamine. In this study, we examined the effects of R- and S-ketamine on depression-like behavior in juvenile mice after neonatal dexamethasone (DEX) exposure. In the tail suspension test (TST) and forced swimming test (FST), both isomers of ketamine significantly attenuated the increase in immobility time, seen in DEX-treated juvenile mice at 27 and 29 h respectively, after ketamine injections. In the 1% sucrose preference test (SPT), both isomers significantly attenuated the reduced preference for 1% sucrose consumption in DEX-treated juvenile mice, 48 h after a ketamine injection. Interestingly, when immobility times were tested by the TST and FST at day 7, R-ketamine, but not S-ketamine, significantly lowered the increases in immobility seen in DEX-treated juvenile mice. This study shows that a single dose of R-ketamine produced rapid and long-lasting antidepressant effects in juvenile mice exposed neonatally to DEX. Therefore, R-ketamine appears to be a potent and safe antidepressant relative to S-ketamine, since R-ketamine may be free of psychotomimetic side effects.

Keywords: Antidepressant; Depression; Ketamine; NMDA receptor; R-ketamine; S-ketamine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antidepressive Agents / pharmacology*
  • Ketamine / pharmacology*
  • Mice
  • Stereoisomerism


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Ketamine