Sinner B, Graf BM.
Zentrum für Anaesthesie, Rettungs- und Intensivmedizin,
Georg August Universität Göttingen,
Robert-Koch-Str. 40, 37075, Göttingen, Germany.
Handb Exp Pharmacol. 2008;(182):313-33.


There are two optical isomers of the 2-(2-chlorophenyl)-2-(methylamino)-cyclohexanone ketamine: S(+) ketamine and R(-) ketamine. Effects of this drug are mediated by N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA), opioid, muscarinic and different voltage-gated receptors. Clinically, the anaesthetic potency of the S(+)-isomer is approximately three to four times that of the R(-)-isomer, which is attributable to the higher affinity of the S(+)-isomer to the phencyclidine binding sites on the NMDA receptors. Ketamine is water- and lipid-soluble, allowing it to be administered conveniently via various routes and providing extensive distribution in the body. Ketamine metabolism is mediated by hepatic microsomal enzymes. It causes bronchodilation and stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system and cardiovascular system. In clinics, ketamine and particularly S(+)-ketamine are used for premedication, sedation, and induction and maintenance of general anaesthesia, which is than termed "dissociative anaesthesia". Ketamine and its S(+)-isomer are ideal anaesthetic agents for trauma victims, patients with hypovolemic and septic shock and patients with pulmonary diseases. Even subanaesthetic doses of this drug have analgesic effects, so ketamine is also recommended for post-operative analgesia and sedation. The combination of ketamine with midazolam or propofol can be extremely useful and safe for sedation and pain relief in intensive care patients, especially during sepsis and cardiovascular instability. In the treatment of chronic pain ketamine is effective as a potent analgesic or substitute together with other potent analgesics, whereby it can be added by different methods. There are some important patient side-effects, however, that limit its use, whereby psycho-mimetic side-effects are most common.

NMDA receptors
Ketamine and memory
Ketamine and the nucleus accumbens
Ketamine: medical and non-medical use
The role of ketamine in pain management
Discriminative stimulus effect/NMDA receptors
Low-dose ketamine as a fast-onset, long-acting antidepressant

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