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Clin Chem. 1988 Nov;34(11):2348-51.

Results compared for tricyclic antidepressants as assayed by liquid chromatography and enzyme immunoassay.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, Wichita State University, KS 67208.


The tricyclic antidepressants amitriptyline, nortriptyline, imipramine, and desipramine in serum of patients taking one of the drugs were quantified in two laboratories by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and enzyme-multiplied immunoassay (EMIT; Syva). Results for split samples were highly correlated, but EMIT gave higher results in most cases, and the slopes of the correlation lines for each analyte were greater than 1. Detection limits for the two procedures were such that 18% of the EMIT results for the drug(s) were considered negative, as compared with 4% of the HPLC results. Additional assay of desmethyl or hydroxy antidepressant metabolites by HPLC did not explain the higher EMIT results. The relatively high detection limit for EMIT greatly limits its use in therapeutic drug monitoring, where low concentrations of tricyclic antidepressants are as important as high ones for dose adjustment or determination of compliance. Other problems with EMIT measurement of tricyclic antidepressants are discussed.

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