Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Joseph Porter


The noncompetitive NMDA receptor antagonist ketamine produces rapid and sustained antidepressant effects in patients suffering from major depressive disorder. However, abuse liability is a concern. To further evaluate the relationship between antidepressant-like and abuse-related effects of NMDA receptor antagonists, this study evaluated the effects of ketamine, MK-801, and phencyclidine in male Sprague-Dawley rats responding under two procedures that have been used to assess antidepressant-like effects [differential-reinforcement-of-low-rate (DRL) 72 s schedule of food reinforcement] and abuse-related drug effects [intracranial self-stimulation (ICSS)]. Under DRL 72 s, ketamine produced an antidepressant-like effect by increasing reinforcers, decreasing responses, and producing a rightward shift in the peak location of the interresponse time (IRT) distributions. Phencyclidine produced a modest antidepressant-like effect by increasing reinforcers and decreasing responses, but did not shift the IRT distributions. In contrast, MK-801 produced a psychostimulant-like effect by decreasing reinforcers, increasing responses, and producing a leftward shift in the peak location of the IRT distributions. The antidepressant-like effects of ketamine on the DRL 72 s procedure do not appear to be mediated by inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin via serotonin transporters or antagonism of 5-HT2 receptors. Additionally, the dissociable effects of ketamine and MK-801 in the DRL 72 s procedure may be mediated by 5-HT2 receptors. Following acute administration, ketamine produced only dose- and time-dependent depression of ICSS and failed to produce an abuse-related facilitation of ICSS at any dose or pretreatment time. Repeated dosing with ketamine produced dose-dependent tolerance to the rate-decreasing effects of ketamine but failed to unmask expression of ICSS facilitation. Termination of ketamine treatment failed to produce withdrawal-associated decreases in ICSS. In contrast, MK-801 and phencyclidine effects produced dose- and time-dependent facilitation of ICSS by MK-801. Taken together, our findings provide further evidence that expression of these antidepressant-like and abuse-related effects of ketamine, phencyclidine, and MK-801 may be related to NMDA receptor affinity.


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Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

April 2014

Included in

Psychology Commons