Aug 7, 1971

Relationship between plasma level and therapeutic effect of nortriptyline

British Medical Journal
M AsbergD Tuck


The relationship between plasma concentration of nortriptyline and therapeutic effect after two weeks' treatment with the drug was investigated in 29 psychiatric inpatients. Endogenous depression was diagnosed in all patients. Amelioration of depressive symptoms was estimated as reduction in score on a rating scale, based on a psychiatric interview. Amelioration was not correlated to the patient's sex or age. There was a curved relationship between plasma level of nortriptyline and therapeutic effect. Amelioration was most pronounced in the intermediate plasma level range (50-139 ng nortriptyline/ml plasma) and was slight both at lower and at higher plasma levels. This type of relationship may be due to the dual action of tricyclic antidepressants which has been found in animal experiments. On larger dosages a phenothiazine-like blockade of the monoaminergic receptor is added to the blockade of monoamine reuptake thought to be related to the antidepressant action of the drugs.THIS STUDY THUS SUGGESTS TWO POSSIBLE REASONS FOR A THERAPEUTIC FAILURE WITH NORTRIPTYLINE: a too low or a too high plasma level. The large individual variation in the pharmacokinetics of the tricyclic antidepressants makes prediction of plasma level from ...Continue Reading

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Mentioned in this Paper

Depression, Chemical
Receptors, Drug
Depressive Symptoms
Factor Construct Rating Scales (Fcrs)

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