Using an experimental medicine model to understand the antidepressant potential of the N-Methyl-D-aspartic acid (NMDA) receptor antagonist memantine.
Pringle A., Parsons E., Cowen LG., McTavish SF., Cowen PJ., Harmer CJ.
There is growing interest in the role of the glutamatergic system both in depression and as a novel target for treatments. Preclinical studies suggested that the non-competitive N-Methyl-D-aspartic acid (NMDA) receptor antagonist memantine might have antidepressant properties, but a randomised controlled trial failed to support this. A healthy volunteer model of emotional processing was used to assess the neuropsychological profile of action of memantine. Healthy volunteers (n=32) were randomised to receive a single dose of memantine (10 mg) or placebo, and subsequently completed a battery of tasks measuring emotional processing, including facial expression recognition, emotional memory, dot-probe and emotion-potentiated startle tasks, as well as working and verbal memory. Memantine treated volunteers showed an increased emotion-potentiated startle, and a reduced bias for negative items in emotional recognition memory. There were no effects of the drug on any other aspect of emotional or non-emotional information processing. These results suggest that a single dose of memantine produces an early anxiogenic response in the emotion-potentiated startle similar to that seen following a single dose of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, citalopram. However, the overall profile of effects is more limited than that which might be expected in response to a conventional antidepressant.