[Ketamine, psilocybin, and rapid acting antidepressant: new promise for psychiatry?]

Encephale. 2021 Apr;47(2):171-178. doi: 10.1016/j.encep.2020.08.006. Epub 2020 Nov 12.
[Article in French]


The hypothesis of monoaminergic deficiency has long dominated the conceptual framework for the development of new antidepressant strategies, but the limits of conventional antidepressant treatments targeting monoaminergic signaling have motivated the search for new antidepressant pathways. The success of ketamine in the management of depressive disorders has provoked a renewed interest in hallucinogenic substances such as psilocybin targeting the serotonergic signaling 5HT2A and neurosteroid allosteric modulator of γ-aminobutyric acid (GABAA) receptors such as brexanolone. Unlike conventional treatments, these modulators of glutamatergic, serotonergic and GABAergic systems exert a rapid antidepressant effect ranging from 24hours to a week. Apart from their clinical interest and the fantasized search for a "miracle" molecule that jointly meets the expectations of patients and clinicians, these new targets could lead to the identification of potential new biomarkers for the development of rapid-acting antidepressants and redefine therapeutic strategies in mood disorders.

Keywords: Antidepressant; Antidépresseur; Brexanolone; Dépression résistante aux traitements; Esketamine; Eskétamine; Ketamine; Kétamine; Major depressive disorder; Neurosteroid; Neurostéroïde; Psilocybin; Psilocybine; Psychedelic; Psychédélique; Treatment resistant depression; Épisode dépressif caractérisé.

MeSH terms

  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Ketamine* / pharmacology
  • Ketamine* / therapeutic use
  • Psilocybin / pharmacology
  • Psilocybin / therapeutic use
  • Psychiatry*


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Psilocybin
  • Ketamine