Esketamine and Rapastinel, but not Imipramine, have antidepressant-like effect in a treatment-resistant animal model of depression

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OBJECTIVE: Treatment-resistance to antidepressants is a major problem in the pharmacotherapy of major depressive disorder (MDD). Unfortunately, only a few animal models are suitable for studying treatment-resistant depression, among them repeated treatment with ACTH appears to be useful to mimic treatment-resistance to monoaminergic antidepressants. Therefore, the present work aimed to investigate the effectiveness of s-ketamine and rapastinel (formerly GLYX13), modulators of the glutamatergic N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor in ACTH-treated animals.

METHODS: Naïve male Sprague Dawley rats were subjected to repeated subcutaneous injections with ACTH (100 µg/0.1mL/rat/day) for 14 days and drug treatment on the test day (open field and forced swim test) with imipramine, s-ketamine or rapastinel. In addition, assessment of plasma levels of corticosterone and ACTH was carried out.

RESULTS: We found that rats repeatedly treated with ACTH for 14 days responded to single injections with s-ketamine (15 mg/kg) and rapastinel (10 mg/kg), but failed to respond to imipramine (15 mg/kg). In the plasma, the levels of corticosterone and ACTH were increased after 14 days of daily treatment with ACTH, independently of the treatment.

CONCLUSION: The present data confirms development of a resistance to treatment following chronic ACTH administration. In addition, the study confirms the possible effectiveness of s-ketamine and rapastinel as treatment options in treatment resistant depression. Moreover, it highlights the importance of the glutamatergic system in the neurobiology of depression. Further studies are necessary to evaluate how repeated treatment with ACTH leads to a depressed condition resistant to monoaminergic antidepressants.

Original languageEnglish
JournalActa Neuropsychiatrica
Pages (from-to)258-265
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019

    Research areas

  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone, Depression, GLYX-13 peptide, esketamine, rat

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