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Determination of Atomoxetine or Escitalopram in human plasma by HPLC. Applications in Neuroscience Research Studies

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Ersche, Karen D 
Regenthal, Ralf 
Sacher, Julia 


Background: Atomoxetine and escitalopram are potent and selective drugs approved for noradrenergic or serotonergic modulation of neuronal networks in attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or depression, respectively. High-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) methods still play an important role in the Therapeutic Drug Monitoring (TDM) of psychopharmacological drugs, and coupled with tandem mass spectrometry are the gold standard for the quantification of drugs in biological matrices, but not available everywhere. The aim of this work was to develop and validate a HPLC method for neuroscientific studies using atomoxetine or escitalopram as a test drug. Methods: A HPLC method from routine TDM determination of atomoxetine or citalopram in plasma was adapted and validated for use in neuroscientific research. Using photo diode array detection with UV absorption at 205 nm, the variation of internal standard within one chromatographic method enables separate drug monitoring for concentration-controlled explorative studies in healthy humans and patients with Parkinson’s disease. Results: The method described here was found to be linear in the range of 0.002 - 1.4 mg/L for atomoxetine and 0.0012 - 0.197 mg/L for escitalopram, with overall mean intra-day and inter-day imprecision and accuracy bias < 10% for both drugs. The method was successfully applied in concentration-controlled neuroimaging studies in populations of healthy humans and patients with Parkinson’s disease. Conclusion: A simple, sensitive, robust HPLC method capable of monitoring escitalopram and atomoxetine is presented and validated, as a useful tool for drug monitoring and the study of pharmacokinetics in neuroscientific study applications.



Atomoxetine Hydrochloride, Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid, Citalopram, Drug Monitoring, Humans, Reproducibility of Results, Tandem Mass Spectrometry

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International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics

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Dustri Verlag


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Medical Research Council (MR/J012084/1)
Wellcome Trust (103838/Z/14/Z)
Medical Research Council (MC_U105597119)
Medical Research Council (MC_UU_00005/12)