Ketamine-induced hypnosis and neuroplasticity in mice is associated with disrupted p-MEK/p-ERK sequential activation and sustained upregulation of survival p-FADD in brain cortex: Involvement of GABAA receptor

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Abstract

Ketamine (KET) is an antidepressant and hypnotic drug acting as an antagonist at excitatory NMDA glutamate receptors. The working hypothesis postulated that KET-induced sleep in mice results in dysregulation of mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPK) MEK-ERK sequential phosphorylation and upregulation of survival p-FADD and other neuroplastic markers in brain. Low (5–15 mg/kg) and high (150 mg/kg) doses of KET on target proteins were assessed by Western immunoblot in mouse brain cortex. During the time course of KET (150 mg/kg)-induced sleep (up to 50 min) p-MEK was increased (up to +79%) and p-ERK decreased (up to −46%) indicating disruption of MEK to ERK signal. Subhypnotic KET (5–15 mg/kg) also revealed uncoupling of p-MEK (+13–81%) to p-ERK (unchanged content). KET did not alter contraregulatory MAPK mechanisms such as inactivated p-MEK1 (ERK dampening) and phosphatases MKP1/2/3 (ERK dephosphorylation). As other relevant findings, KET (5, 15 and 150 mg/kg) upregulated p-FADD in a dose-dependent manner, and for the hypnotic dose the effect paralleled the time course of sleep which resulted in increased p-FADD/FADD ratios. KET (150 mg/kg) also increased NF-κB and PSD-95 neuroplastic markers. Flumazenil (a neutral allosteric antagonist at GABAA receptor) prolonged KET sleep and blocked p-MEK upregulation, indicating the involvement of this receptor as a negative modulator. SL-327 (a MEK inhibitor) augmented KET sleep, further indicating the relevance of reduced p-ERK1/2 in KET-induced hypnosis. These findings suggest that hypnotic and subhypnotic doses of KET inducing uncoupling of p-MEK to p-ERK signal and regulation of p-ERK (downregulation) and p-FADD (upregulation) may participate in the expression of some of its adverse effects (e.g. amnesia, dissociative effects).

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