UoY researchers discover new effects of ketamine abuse

Excessive use of ketamine could lead to the breakdown of the bladder

Scientists at the University of York have discovered the negative impact that ketamine abuse has on the cells in the lining of the bladder, which could lead to a cystectomy. 

Dr Simon Baker, one of the leading researchers of the study, is a professor in the Biology department here at York. Working in collaboration with hospitals in Middlesborough and Leeds, Baker’s team observed the toxic effect of ketamine on the epithelial tissues of the bladder when the cells were exposed to it.

Dr Simon Baker.
Source: University of York

Ketamine was shown to overwhelm the mitochondria of the cells, resulting in a release of toxins and the eventual breaking down of the tissues of the bladder’s lining.

Dr Baker commented, “[The study] demonstrates that direct contact with urinary ketamine causes significant bladder damage, and shows how this drug causes the death of previously healthy bladder cells.”

The breaking down of these epithelial tissues can lead to extreme pain due to urine being able to penetrate into underlying tissues, causing inflammation. In some cases, this can result in surgery to remove the bladder (cystectomy).