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Yale Researchers Measure Ketamine's Effects on a Glutamate Receptor

November 21, 2019

Sophie Holmes, PhD, Associate Research Scientist in Psychiatry, and Irina Esterlis, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, are the first and senior authors, respectively, of a study published in Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow & Metabolism that measured the effects of the anesthetic ketamine on a glutamate receptor.

A derivative of ketamine, the nasal spray esketamine, was approved in March by the Food and Drug Administration to treat chronically depressed patients. Ketamine targets the glutamate system, and in the study, researchers used positron emission tomography (PET) scans and the radiotracer (18F) FPEB to show that ketamine leads to a downregulation of the metabotropic glutamate receptor 5, likely related to an increase in glutamate release.

The findings replicate previous work done by the scientists using a different radiotracer, and highlight how PET imaging can be used to probe the molecular effects of glutamate-modulating drugs such ketamine, vital for understanding and developing novel treatments for psychiatric disorders.

The study's co-authors from Yale are Jean-Dominque Gallezot, Margaret T. Davis, Nicole DellaGioia, David Matuskey, Nabeel Nabulsi, John H. Krystal, and Richard E. Carson.

Submitted by Christopher Gardner on November 20, 2019