ClickCease
Sarah Brand

Sarah Brand

Randomized controlled crossover trial of ketamine in obsessive-compulsive disorder: Proof-of-concept.

Rodriguez, C. I., Kegeles, L. S., Levinson, A., Feng, T., Marcus, S. M., Vermes, D., Flood, P., & Simpson, H. B. (2013). Randomized controlled crossover trial of ketamine in

obsessive-compulsive disorder: Proof-of-concept. Neuropsychopharmacology, 38(12), 2475–2483.

Highlights:

  • Participants receiving ketamine first showed a significant rapid reduction in obsessions during the infusion that persisted until 1 week post-infusion compared with participants receiving a placebo first.
  • Half of the participants receiving ketamine first met treatment response criteria at 1-week post-infusion.
  • There were significant carryover effects suggesting that ketamine’s effects on OCD symptoms last longer than previously reported.

Abstract

Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs), the first-line pharmacological treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), have two limitations: incomplete symptom relief and 2–3 months lag time before clinically meaningful improvement. New medications with faster onset are needed. As converging evidence suggests a role for the glutamate system in the pathophysiology of OCD, we tested whether a single dose of ketamine, a non-competitive N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) glutamate receptor antagonist, could achieve rapid anti-obsessional effects. In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover design, drug-free OCD adults (n=15) with near-constant obsessions received two 40-min intravenous infusions, one of saline and one of ketamine (0.5 mg/kg), spaced at least 1-week apart. The OCD visual analog scale (OCD-VAS) and the Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS) were used to assess OCD symptoms. Unexpectedly, ketamine’s effects within the crossover design showed significant (p<0.005) carryover effects (ie, lasting longer than 1 week). As a result, only the first-phase data were used in additional analyses. Specifically, those receiving ketamine (n=8) reported significant improvement in obsessions (measured by OCD-VAS) during the infusion compared with subjects receiving placebo (n=7). One week post-infusion, 50% of those receiving ketamine (n=8) met the criteria for treatment response (⩾35% Y-BOCS reduction) vs 0% of those receiving placebo (n=7). Rapid anti-OCD effects from a single intravenous dose of ketamine can persist for at least 1 week in some OCD patients with constant intrusive thoughts. This is the first randomized, controlled trial to demonstrate that a drug affecting glutamate neurotransmission can reduce OCD symptoms without the presence of an SRI and is consistent with a glutamatergic hypothesis of OCD.

More Articles