All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Elizabeth A Gardner

Advisory Committee Members

Jason Linville

Lori L McMahon

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Master of Science in Forensic Science (MSFS) College of Arts and Sciences


Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic that was developed for use as a short-acting anesthesia. It has a history of being a drug of abuse and is currently a Schedule III drug. Ketamine is being investigated as an antidepressant due to its fast-action and long-lasting effects in comparison to other antidepressants. The exact mechanism of action of ketamine on the brain that results in the antidepressant effects is currently unknown, as is the reason for differences in the way males and females respond to ketamine. Dr. Lori McMahon, Allie Widman, and Nateka Jackson in the Cell, Developmental, and Integrative Biology Department at University of Alabama at Birmingham are conducting a study to observe the differences in male and female responses to ketamine treatment in addition to investigating how ketamine interacts with the brain. In collaboration with the McMahon group, the aim of this study is to investigate the concentrations of ketamine and norketamine in different tissue samples at 3 different time periods after injecting ketamine. The objectives were to discern how the ketamine is being distributed after intravenous injection, how quickly it is metabolized, and how long it remains in the plasma, liver, hippocampus, prefrontal cortex, and cerebellum. The results establish that the highest concentration of ketamine is in all tissues at time 0. There are no notable differences in the levels of norketamine and ketamine in male and ovariectomized female rats. Ketamine and norketamine were below the limit of quantitation within three hours of treatment in all tissues. Future studies could include samples taken from female rates dosed with estrogen and progesterone and determine the concentrations of ketamine metabolites hydroxynorketamine and hydroxyketamine. If ketamine becomes a widely used treatment for depression, it may become more widely abused. Therefore, documenting differences between genders in the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of the drug will aid the field of forensic toxicology.



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