Background: In recent years, discovery of ketamine's fast and powerful antidepressant effects for treatment-resistant depression (TRD) has led to rethinking of the pathophysiology of depression. Numerous studies in humans and animals have focused on mechanisms of action underlying this effect, producing a number of explanatory pathways.
Method: The aim of this article is to summarize the various hypotheses underlying rapid antidepressant action of ketamine and therefore to better understand the mechanisms underlying depression and antidepressant action.
Results: Ketamine unique antidepressant properties have led to many studies on its neurobiological grounds. Intracellular signaling pathways such as mTOR, GSK3 or eEF2 seem to play a key role and are associated with an increased synaptic plasticity. Other hypotheses are discussed such as ketamine effects on neuro-inflammation, the role of anterior cingulate cortex in brain changes induced by ketamine, and the potential benefits of analgesic properties of ketamine in depressive disorders.
Conclusion: Our review highlights the potential role of the glutamatergic system in the pathophysiology and treatment of mood disorders. Understanding which pathways underlie the fast antidepressant effect of ketamine paves the way for the development of new antidepressants.
Keywords: Dépression; Dépression résistante; Glutamate; Ketamine; Kétamine; Major depressive disorder; NMDA; NMDA receptors; Treatment-resistant depression.
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