Ketamine produces its antidepressant effect, in part, by increasing insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), a new study has confirmed.
While previous research has found that ketamine exerts some of its antidepressant effect by increasing brain-derived neutrophic factor (BDNF), this is the first study to show that IGF-1 also plays an important role and that they both work through independent pathways.
Not only does this discovery offer new areas of study for future research into depression and antidepressants, it also suggests – to me at least – that other proven ways to boost IGF-1 may be useful in treating depression.
Things like exercise, diet, and deep sleep, to name just a few (we’ll look at more later in the article).
Since previous research has shown insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) can produce antidepressant-like effects in mice, researchers at Osaka Metropolitan University in Japan set out to examine the role of IGF-1 in the antidepressant effects of ketamine.
Results showed that ketamine significantly increased IGF-1 levels in male mice for at least five hours. However, an infusion of an IGF-1 neutralising antibody blocked the antidepressant-like effects of ketamine.
These results suggest that persistent release of IGF-1, independently of BDNF, is essential for the antidepressant-like actions of ketamine.
The researchers hypothesised that the single dose of ketamine increases the level of IGF-1 in the brain, changing prefrontal cortex nerves and causing them to increase their number of stable connections.
What is IGF-1?
Produced by the liver, IGF-1 is a hormone that’s known to be critical for optimal physical and mental performance. It stimulates growth, regenerates cells, and helps your body recover and repair itself.
Although vital for growing and maintaining muscle mass, IGF–1 also supports your brain health.
And unfortunately, as you age your IGF-1 levels drastically decrease, contributing to cognitive decline.
However, consuming ketamine isn’t the only way to increase levels of IGF-1 in the brain.
Other ways to boost IGF-1
There are many different ways to optimise and increase IGF-1 levels. They include:
- Resistance training (strength training)
- High intensity interval training (HIIT)
- High protein diet
- Deep sleep
- Reducing inflammation
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Sun light
A new study has found that ketamin’s antidepressants effects are down to increases in IGF-1 as well as increases in BDNF.
Not only does this highlight new areas of research on depression and antidepressants, it also suggests that other techniques known to boost IGF-1 may be helpful in treating depression.