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Quantification of imipramine and its major metabolites in whole blood, brain, and other tissues of the rat by liquid chromatography


An assay procedure is presented using high-performance liquid chromatography and fluorescence detection for simultaneous determination of imipramine, desipramine, and their 2-hydroxylated metabolites in whole blood and various tissues of the rat. By modifying methods previously described for plasma, we have developed an assay method for sensitive, reproducible quantitation of these compounds in rat plasma, whole blood, brain, liver, and fetus. Increasing the volume of the extraction solvent (20% butanol in hexane) increased recovery of imipramine and desipramine to greater than 90% for all tissues examined. No interfering peaks were observed for any of the tissues studied. Addition of n-butylamine as a modifier to the mobile phase decreased the retention of all four compounds and decreased peak tailing of the demethylated compounds. The total elution time was less than 15 min. Using these methods the coefficient of variation for all four compounds was generally less than 5% for each of the five tissues examined. The calibration curves were linear for standard concentrations of 25–2,000 ng/ml spiked tissue homogenate. This method has sufficient sensitivity and specificity for use in pharmacokinetic studies of imipramine.

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Correspondence to C. Lindsay DeVane.

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Stout, S.A., Lindsay DeVane, C. Quantification of imipramine and its major metabolites in whole blood, brain, and other tissues of the rat by liquid chromatography. Psychopharmacology 84, 39–41 (1984).

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Key words

  • High-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC)
  • Tricyclic antidepressants
  • Imipramine
  • 2-Hydroxyimipramine
  • Desipramine
  • 2-Hydroxydesipramine
  • Tissue-drug concentrations