Placebo-controlled pilot trial testing dose titration and intravenous, intramuscular and subcutaneous routes for ketamine in depression

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Abstract

Objective:

This pilot study assessed the feasibility, efficacy and safety of an individual dose-titration approach, and of the intravenous (IV), intramuscular (IM) and subcutaneous (SC) routes for treating depression with ketamine.

Method:

Fifteen treatment-refractory depressed participants received ketamine or midazolam (control treatment) in a multiple crossover, double-blind study. Ketamine was administered by IV (n = 4), IM (n = 5) or SC (n = 6) injection. Dose titration commenced at 0.1 mg/kg, increasing by 0.1 mg/kg up to 0.5 mg/kg, given in separate treatment sessions separated by ≥1 week, with one placebo control treatment randomly inserted. Mood, psychotomimetic and hemodynamic effects were assessed and plasma ketamine concentrations assayed.

Results:

Twelve participants achieved response and remission criteria, achieved at doses as low as 0.1 mg/kg. All three routes of administration resulted in comparable antidepressant effects. Fewest adverse effects were noted with the SC route. Antidepressant response, adverse effects and ketamine concentrations were dose-related.

Conclusion:

Antidepressant response occurred at a range of doses and at <0.5 mg/kg. The dose-titration approach is a practical method for optimizing the efficacy – side-effects trade-off on an individual patient basis. This pilot study provides preliminary evidence for SC injection as a practical, feasible and efficacious treatment approach.

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