Ketamine and ketamine metabolites as novel estrogen receptor ligands: Induction of cytochrome P450 and AMPA glutamate receptor gene expression.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Major depressive disorder (MDD) is the most common psychiatric illness worldwide, and it displays a striking sex-dependent difference in incidence, with two thirds of MDD patients being women. Ketamine treatment can produce rapid antidepressant effects in MDD patients, effects that are mediated-at least partially-through glutamatergic neurotransmission. Two active metabolites of ketamine, (2R,6R)-hydroxynorketamine (HNK) and (2S,6S)-HNK, also appear to play a key role in ketamine's rapid antidepressant effects through the activation of α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA) glutamate receptors. In the present study, we demonstrated that estrogen plus ketamine or estrogen plus active ketamine metabolites displayed additive effects on the induction of the expression of AMPA receptor subunits. In parallel, the expression of estrogen receptor alpha (ERα) was also significantly upregulated. Even more striking, radioligand binding assays demonstrated that [3H]-ketamine can directly bind to ERα (KD: 344.5 ± 13 nM). Furthermore, ketamine and its (2R,6R)-HNK and (2S,6S)-HNK metabolites displayed similar affinity for ERα (IC50: 2.31 ± 0.1, 3.40 ± 0.2, and 3.53 ± 0.2 µM, respectively) as determined by [3H]-ketamine displacement assays. Finally, induction of AMPA receptors by either estrogens or ketamine and its metabolites was lost when ERα was knocked down or silenced pharmacologically. These results suggest a positive feedback loop by which estrogens can augment the effects of ketamine and its (2R,6R)-HNK and (2S,6S)-HNK metabolites on the ERα-induced transcription of CYP2A6 and CYP2B6, estrogen inducible enzymes that catalyze ketamine's biotransformation to form the two active metabolites. These observations provide novel insight into ketamine's molecular mechanism(s) of action and have potential implications for the treatment of MDD.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Ho, M-F; Correia, C; Ingle, JN; Kaddurah-Daouk, R; Wang, L; Kaufmann, SH; Weinshilboum, RM

Published Date

  • June 2018

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 152 /

Start / End Page

  • 279 - 292

PubMed ID

  • 29621538

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC5960634

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1873-2968

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.bcp.2018.03.032


  • eng

Conference Location

  • England