Rapamycin and Ketamine: A Promising Combination for Depression Treatment?

Science of Ketamine

Rapamycin and Ketamine: A Promising Combination for Depression Treatment?

Written by

Isha Team

published:

November 8, 2023

updated:

November 14, 2023

Introduction

Rapamycin is a drug that has been studied for decades in worms, mice, dogs, and humans and has shown great potential for anti-aging properties 1. It is an FDA-approved drug used to prevent organ rejection after transplant surgery and is also used to treat certain cancers, thus improving longevity 1. Rapamycin slows down the aging processes in healthy cells and blocks the growth and metabolism in unhealthy and cancer cells 1. Cancer cells grow and replicate faster than normal healthy cells in our body and as a result, cancer cells often overtake our healthy cells. Rapamycin targets specific signals in cancer cells, impairing and slowing their growth process. As a result, rapamycin blocks cancer cell metabolism and is considered a promising anti-cancer treatment 1.

In addition to its anti-aging and anti-cancer properties, rapamycin has also been studied for its potential benefits on mental health. A research group at the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing in Cologne, Germany, has shown in laboratory animals that brief exposure to rapamycin has the same positive effects as lifelong treatment opening new doors for a potential application in humans 23. The effect of rapamycin on aging and age-related diseases has been studied extensively over the past decade. In this review, we focus on those areas in which there is strong evidence for rapamycin’s effect on aging and age-related diseases in mice, e.g., lifespan, cardiac disease/function, central nervous system, immune system, and cell senescence 4.

Rapamycin’s Effect on Mental Health

Based on these studies, it can be inferred that rapamycin may have potential benefits for mental health as well. However, further research is needed to determine the efficacy of rapamycin as a treatment for mental health conditions.

Regarding side effects of rapamycin, some of the more common side effects include lowered potassium levels in the blood, anemia, decreased blood platelets, increased blood pressure, decreased kidney function, increased triglyceride levels, constipation, joint and muscle pain, dizziness, fever, headache, nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal pain 123.

How Does Rapamycin Work for Mental Health?

 According to a study, rapamycin’s inhibition of mTORC 1 may be able to reduce lactate production, increase ATP levels, improve cognition, and induce autophagy – a process the cell uses to clean itself up – and which a recent study suggests may be impaired in ME/CFS 2. However, I could not find any information on the use of Rapamycin for mental health in general. If you have any other questions, please let me know.

Can rapamycin make ketamine last longer?

Rapamycin has been shown to prolong the antidepressant effects of ketamine. A study conducted by researchers at Yale University School of Medicine found that rapamycin can extend the antidepressant effects of ketamine by up to two weeks . The study involved 20 patients suffering from major depressive episodes who were given oral rapamycin (6 mg) or placebo 2 hours before receiving intravenous ketamine (0.5 mg/kg) in a double-blind cross-over design with treatment days separated by at least 2 weeks. Depression severity was assessed using Montgomery–Åsberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS). Rapamycin pretreatment did not alter the antidepressant effects of ketamine at the 24-hour time point. Over the subsequent 2 weeks, a significant treatment by time interaction was observed, suggesting a prolongation of the antidepressant effects of ketamine by rapamycin6 .

Conclusion

In conclusion, rapamycin is a promising drug that has shown great potential for anti-aging properties as well as anti-cancer properties. It may also have potential benefits for mental health but some evidence suggest that it can be helpful to prolong the effects of ketamine as an antidepressant. Further research is needed to determine the efficacy of rapamycin as a treatment for mental health conditions.

Citations: 

1: “Is Rapamycin the New “Fountain of Youth”?” Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/happiness-is-state-mind/202103/is-rapamycin-the-new-fountain-youth 

2: “Brief exposure to rapamycin has the same anti-aging effects as lifelong treatment.” ScienceDaily. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/08/220829112829.htm

 3: “Brief exposure to rapamycin has the same anti-aging effects as lifelong treatment.” Neuroscience News. https://neurosciencenews.com/rapamycin-lifespan-21319/ 

4: “Effect of rapamycin on aging and age-related diseases—past and future.” Springer. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11357-020-00274-1

5: “Modulation of the antidepressant effects of ketamine by the mTORC1 inhibitor rapamycin.” Nature. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41386-020-0644-9.pdf

6: “Rapamycin: Benefits, Side Effects, and Research.” Lifespan.io. https://www.lifespan.io/topic/rapamycin-benefits-side-effects/

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