Treatment response with ketamine in chronic suicidality: An open label functional connectivity study

J Affect Disord. 2023 Jun 15:331:92-100. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2023.03.064. Epub 2023 Mar 22.


Background: Ketamine has recently been proposed as a treatment option for suicidality. Whilst its mechanism of action has been explored at molecular levels, the effect on the brain at the organ level remains unclear. Here we investigate immediate post-treatment and prolonged large-scale resting-state neural network changes to elucidate the neuronal underpinnings associated with ketamine's therapeutic effects.

Methods: Twenty-eight adults (aged 22-72 years) participated in the Oral Ketamine Trial On Suicidality, which is an open-label trial of weekly sub-anaesthetic doses of oral ketamine over 6 weeks. MRI was acquired at baseline, post-treatment, and follow-up. Functional connectivity changes at post-treatment and follow-up were examined using seed based and independent component analysis.

Results: The seed-based connectivity analysis revealed significantly reduced connectivity at post-treatment from the right hippocampus to both right and left superior frontal gyrus, from the left anterior parahippocampus to right superior frontal gyrus, left superior frontal gyrus, right middle frontal gyrus, and left frontal operculum cortex. Compared with baseline, the ICA showed reduced anterior default mode network connectivities to bilateral posterior cingulate cortex, middle and anterior cingulate cortex, lingual gyrus, and cuneus and increased connectivity of the frontoparietal network to the right superior parietal lobule at post-treatment.

Limitations: Open label pilot study.

Conclusions: We have shown sub-anaesthetic doses of ketamine alters connectivity in networks which have been shown to be aberrantly hyper-connected in numerous psychiatric conditions. These neurocircuitry changes are supported by significant reductions in suicide ideation. Our results provide support for the use of ketamine as a treatment for suicidality.

Keywords: Ketamine; Resting-state fMRI; Suicidality.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Frontal Lobe
  • Humans
  • Ketamine* / therapeutic use
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Pilot Projects
  • Suicide*


  • Ketamine