The novel methoxetamine analogs N-ethylnorketamine hydrochloride (NENK), 2-MeO-N-ethylketamine hydrochloride (2-MeO-NEK), and 4-MeO-N-ethylketamine hydrochloride (4-MeO-NEK) elicit rapid antidepressant effects via activation of AMPA and 5-HT2 receptors
Depressive syndrome or depression is a debilitating brain disorder affecting numerous people worldwide. Although readily available, current antidepressants have low remission rates and late onset times. Recently, N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonists, like ketamine and methoxetamine (MXE), were found to elicit rapid antidepressant effects. As the search for glutamatergic-based antidepressants is increasing, we synthesized three novel MXE analogs, N-ethylnorketamine hydrochloride (NENK), 2-MeO-N-ethylketamine hydrochloride (2-MeO-NEK), and 4-MeO-N-ethylketamine hydrochloride (4-MeO-NEK).
To determine whether the three novel MXE analogs induce antidepressant effects and explore their mechanistic correlation.
We examined their affinity for NMDA receptors through a radioligand binding assay. Mice were treated with each drug (2.5, 5, and 10 mg/kg), and their behavior was assessed 30 min later in the forced swimming test (FST), tail suspension test (TST), elevated plus-maze (EPM) test, and open-field test (OFT). Another group of mice were pretreated with 2,3-dihydroxy-6-nitro-7-sulfamoyl-benzo(f)quinoxaline-2,3-dione (NBQX), an α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA) receptor antagonist, or ketanserin (KS), a 5-HT2 receptor antagonist, during the FST. We also measured mRNA levels of the AMPA receptor subunits GluA1 and GluA2, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), and mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex.
The MXE analogs showed affinity to NMDA receptors and decreased immobility time during the FST and TST. NBQX and KS blocked their effects in the FST. The compounds did not induce behavioral alteration during the EPM and OFT. The compounds altered GluA1, GluA2, and BDNF mRNA levels.
These results suggest that the novel MXE analogs induce antidepressant effects, which is likely via AMPA and 5-HT2 receptor activation.
KeywordsDepressive syndrome NMDA receptor antagonists Methoxetamine analogs AMPA receptors 5-HT2 receptors
This research was supported by the National Research Foundation (NRF) and funded by the Korean government (2017M3A9G2077568 and 2016R1D1A1B02010387).
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
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