Two studies have confirmed that recreational ketamine abuse can lead to your bladder damage.
“We now have a more detailed understanding of how and why chronic ketamine abuse results in bladder problems and cystitis. Understanding the full side-effects of ketamine is very important as other researchers are currently investigating the potential for this drug to spawn a new generation of anti-depressants,” said Dr. Simon Baker, Senior Postdoctoral Research Fellow in York’s Jack Birch Unit for Molecular Carcinogenesis.
Ketamine, which is often abused as a recreational drug, is known as Special K and a strong anaesthetic drug commonly used as a horse tranquilliser.
Dr. Baker in collaboration with doctors from Middlesbrough and Leeds hospitals conducted two researches to take a cautious look at the relation between this drug and bladder damage. They found its potential to permanently damage the bladder and can cause the removal in the worst cases.
In the first study, they analyzed a cystectomy case to detect the reason leading to the bladder damage. They considered 2 options, whether due to direct contact with urinary ketamine or whether because of a systemic change in the whole body affecting the organ.
After looking at this case, the scientists discovered that epithelial cells lining the bladder died after coming into direct contact with urinary ketamine. In other words, this showed direct contact with urine is critical to the toxicity of ketamine to the bladder epithelium, ruling out systemic factors.
The aim of the second research is to find a more apparent answer to the question how this drug damaged the bladder. They analyzed the epithelium cells taken from healthy patients after the cells were exposed to ketamine and gave a responses.
The result showed that ketamine makes cells commit a controlled form of suicide (or apoptosis) caused by cell death. The researchers found that the drug triggers the release of toxins by flooding the cell’s mitochondria. Cells then undergo apoptosis in an attempt to protect remaining tissue.
This occurs in a regulated fashion that does not cause excessive toxicity to other cells in an attempt to protect the remaining tissue; however, in the case of chronic ketamine abuse, all epithelial cells are killed.
“These two studies combine to demonstrate that direct contact with urinary ketamine causes significant bladder damage, and shows how this drug causes the death of previously healthy bladder cells,” said Dr. Baker.
Anyone who experiences bladder pain as using the drug is highly warned to stop taking the drug immediately, as if too many bladder cells are killed there will not be enough remaining to repair the tissue.
The doctors publicly announced their discovery on the Urology Journal and The American Journal of Pathology.