Toxicology letters

Developmental neurotoxicity of ketamine in pediatric clinical use.

PMID 23566897


Ketamine is widely used as an anesthetic, analgesic, and sedative in pediatric clinical practice and it is also listed as an illicit drug by most countries. Recent in vivo and in vitro animal studies have confirmed that ketamine can induce neuronal cell death in the immature brain, resulting from widespread neuronal apoptosis. These effects can disturb normal development further altering the structure and functions of the brain. Our recent studies further indicate that ketamine can alter neurogenesis from neural stem progenitor cells in the developing brain. Taken together, these findings identify a novel complication associated with ketamine use in premature infants, term newborns, and pregnant women. Recent data on the developmental neurotoxicity of ketamine are reviewed with proposed future directions for evaluating the safety of ketamine in these patient populations.