Ketamine, a noncompetitive N-methyl D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist, is widely used in pediatric clinical practice. The neuroprotective and neurotoxic effects of ketamine on brain neurons during development remain controversial. The reason may be related to the different concentrations of ketamine used in practice and the small range of concentrations used in previous studies. In this study, cultured hippocampal neurons were treated with ketamine in a wide range of concentrations to comprehensively observe the effects of different concentrations of ketamine on neurons. We demonstrated that low concentrations of ketamine (10 μM, 100 μM and 1000 μM) promoted neuronal survival (p < 0.05) and reduced neuronal apoptosis (p < 0.05) compared with those of the control group. High concentrations of ketamine (2000 μM, 2500 μM and 3000 μM) reduced neuronal survival (p < 0.05) and promoted neuronal apoptosis (p < 0.05). The p38 MAPK inhibitor SB203580 reduced neuronal apoptosis induced by high concentrations of ketamine (2500 μM) (p < 0.05). Our findings indicate that ketamine exerts a dual effect on the apoptosis of primary cultured fetal rat hippocampal neurons in vitro and that the neurotoxic effects of ketamine are related to activation of the p38 MAPK signaling pathway.

Read more.

Guo-Hua Wu et al.
Metabolic Brain Disease June 2023