Ketamine ameliorates severe traumatic event-induced antidepressant-resistant depression in a rat model through ERK activation

Chi Wei Lee, Yi Ju Chen, Han Fang Wu, Yueh Jung Chung, Yi Chao Lee, Cheng Ta Li, Hui Ching Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Treatment-resistant depression (TRD) is a major public health issue, as it is common for patients with depression to fail to respond to adequate trials of antidepressants. However, a well-established animal model of TRD is still warranted. The present study focused on selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) resistance, and aimed to investigate whether higher levels of traumatic stress caused by greater numbers of foot-shocks may lead to severe depression and to examine the feasibility of this as an animal model of SSRI-resistant depression. To reveal the correlation between traumatic stress and severe depression, rats received 3, 6 and 10 tone (conditioned stimulus, CS)–shock (unconditioned stimulus, US) pairings to mimic mild, moderate, and severe traumatic events, and subsequent depressive-like behaviors and protein immunocontents were analyzed. The antidepressant efficacy was assessed for ketamine and SSRI (i.e., fluoxetine) treatment. We found that only the severe stress group presented depressive-like behaviors. Phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERKs) was decreased in the amygdala and prefrontal cortex (PFC). The immunocontents of GluA1 and PSD 95 were increased in the amygdala and decreased in the PFC. Moreover, the glutamate-related abnormalities in the amygdala and PFC were normalized by single-dose (10 mg/kg, i.p.) ketamine treatment. In contrast, the depressive-like behaviors were not reversed by 28 days of fluoxetine treatment (10 mg/kg, i.p.) in the severe stress group. Our data demonstrated that high levels of traumatic stress could lead to SSRI-resistant depressive symptoms through impacts on the glutamatergic system, and that this rat model has the potential to be a feasible animal model of SSRI-resistant depression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102-113
Number of pages12
JournalProgress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - Jul 13 2019


  • Amygdala
  • ERKs
  • Ketamine
  • Prefrontal cortex
  • SSRI-resistant depression
  • Traumatic stress levels

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Biological Psychiatry


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