The lack of utter efficacy and fast action of commonly used antidepressants that selectively target the monoaminergic neurotransmission has led to the exploration of ketamine’s actions. Ketamine’s antidepressant effect was firstly described in 1973 and nowadays its therapeutic value as a fast- and long- lasting antidepressant has been extensively established. Ketamine is an antagonist of the N-Methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) and its main mechanism of action via NMDAR inhibition expressed in GABAergic (gamma-Aminobutyric acid, GABA) interneurons may be relayed to its antidepressant effects. This review aims to describe the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic profile of ketamine when used for treatment-resistant depression. Moreover, ketamine is a racemic mixture consisting of two enantiomers, R- and S- ketamine. We describe the pharmacology of esketamine, along with the guidelines for effective and safe intranasal administration of esketamine. Lastly, this review presents sex differences in preclinical and clinical studies of ketamine and esketamine administration.

ΚΕΥWORDS: Ketamine, esketamine, pharmacology, treatment resistant depression, sex differences.

Pavlina Pavlidi, Anastasia Megalokonomou, Adrian Sofron, Nikolaos Kokras, Christina Dalla


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