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Single-dose infusion ketamine and non-ketamine N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor antagonists for unipolar and bipolar depression: a meta-analysis of efficacy, safety and time trajectories

  • T. Kishimoto (a1) (a2) (a3) (a4), J. M. Chawla (a2), K. Hagi (a2) (a5), C. A. Zarate (a6), J. M. Kane (a2) (a3) (a4), M. Bauer (a7) and C. U. Correll (a2) (a3) (a4)...



Ketamine and non-ketamine N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor antagonists (NMDAR antagonists) recently demonstrated antidepressant efficacy for the treatment of refractory depression, but effect sizes, trajectories and possible class effects are unclear.


We searched PubMed/PsycINFO/Web of Science/ until 25 August 2015. Parallel-group or cross-over randomized controlled trials (RCTs) comparing single intravenous infusion of ketamine or a non-ketamine NMDAR antagonist v. placebo/pseudo-placebo in patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) and/or bipolar depression (BD) were included in the analyses. Hedges’ g and risk ratios and their 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated using a random-effects model. The primary outcome was depressive symptom change. Secondary outcomes included response, remission, all-cause discontinuation and adverse effects.


A total of 14 RCTs (nine ketamine studies: n = 234; five non-ketamine NMDAR antagonist studies: n = 354; MDD = 554, BD = 34), lasting 10.0 ± 8.8 days, were meta-analysed. Ketamine reduced depression significantly more than placebo/pseudo-placebo beginning at 40 min, peaking at day 1 (Hedges' g = −1.00, 95% CI −1.28 to −0.73, p < 0.001), and loosing superiority by days 10–12. Non-ketamine NMDAR antagonists were superior to placebo only on days 5–8 (Hedges' g = −0.37, 95% CI −0.66 to −0.09, p = 0.01). Compared with placebo/pseudo-placebo, ketamine led to significantly greater response (40 min to day 7) and remission (80 min to days 3–5). Non-ketamine NMDAR antagonists achieved greater response at day 2 and days 3–5. All-cause discontinuation was similar between ketamine (p = 0.34) or non-ketamine NMDAR antagonists (p = 0.94) and placebo. Although some adverse effects were more common with ketamine/NMDAR antagonists than placebo, these were transient and clinically insignificant.


A single infusion of ketamine, but less so of non-ketamine NMDAR antagonists, has ultra-rapid efficacy for MDD and BD, lasting for up to 1 week. Development of easy-to-administer, repeatedly given NMDAR antagonists without risk of brain toxicity is of critical importance.

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Corresponding author

*Address for correspondence: C. U. Correll, M.D., The Zucker Hillside Hospital, Psychiatry, 75-59 263rd Street, Glen Oaks, NY 11004, USA. (Email:


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Single-dose infusion ketamine and non-ketamine N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor antagonists for unipolar and bipolar depression: a meta-analysis of efficacy, safety and time trajectories

  • T. Kishimoto (a1) (a2) (a3) (a4), J. M. Chawla (a2), K. Hagi (a2) (a5), C. A. Zarate (a6), J. M. Kane (a2) (a3) (a4), M. Bauer (a7) and C. U. Correll (a2) (a3) (a4)...


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