Does ketamine-mediated N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor antagonism cause schizophrenia-like oculomotor abnormalities?
Evidence from histological and pharmacological challenge studies indicates that N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor hypofunction may play an important role in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. Our goal was to characterize effects of NMDA hypofunction further, as related to schizophrenia-associated neuropsychological impairment. We administered progressively higher doses of ketamine (target plasma concentrations of 50, 100, 150, and 200 ng/ml) to 10 psychiatrically healthy young men in a randomized, single-blind, placebo-controlled design and assessed oculomotor, cognitive, and symptomatic changes. Mean ketamine plasma concentrations approximated target plasma concentrations at each infusion step. Verbal recall, recognition memory, verbal fluency, pursuit tracking, visually guided saccades, and fixation all deteriorated significantly during ketamine infusion; lateral gaze nystagmus explained some, but not all, of the smooth pursuit abnormalities. We concluded that ketamine induces changes in recall and recognition memory and verbal fluency reminiscent of schizophreniform psychosis. During smooth pursuit eye tracking, ketamine induces nystagmus as well as abnormalities characteristic of schizophrenia. These findings help delineate the similarities and differences between schizophreniform and NMDA-blockade-induced cognitive and oculomotor abnormalities.
Radant, AD; Bowdle, TA; Cowley, DS; Kharasch, ED; Roy-Byrne, PP
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