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Biol Psychiatry. 1999 Sep 15;46(6):839-49.

Citalopram and desmethylcitalopram in vitro: human cytochromes mediating transformation, and cytochrome inhibitory effects.

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Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA 02111, USA.



Biotransformation of citalopram (CT), a newly available selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressant, to its principal metabolite, desmethycitalopram (DCT), and the capacity of CT and DCT to inhibit human cytochromes P450, were studied in vitro.


Formation of DCT from CT was evaluated using human liver microsomes and microsomes from cDNA-transfected human lymphoblastoid cells. Cytochrome inhibition by CT and DCT in liver microsomes was studied using isoform-specific index reactions.


Formation of DCT from CT in liver microsomes had a mean apparent K(m) of 174 mumol/L. Coincubation with 1 mumol/L ketoconazole reduced reaction velocity to 46 to 58% of control values, while omeprazole, 10 mumol/L, reduced velocity to 80% of control. Quinidine produced minimal inhibition. DCT was formed from CT by heterologously expressed human P450-2D6, -2C19, -3A4. After accounting for the relative abundance of individual cytochromes, 3A4 and 2C19 were estimated to make major contributions to net reaction velocity, with a possible contribution of 2D6 at therapeutic CT concentrations. CT and DCT themselves produced negligible inhibition of 2C9, 2E1, and 3A, and only weak inhibition of 1A2, 2C19, and 2D6.


Formation of DCT from CT is mediated mainly by P450-3A4 and 2C19, with an additional contribution of 2D6. CT at therapeutic doses in humans may produce a small degree of inhibition of P450-1A2, -2C19, and -2D6, but negligible inhibition of P450-2C9, -2E1, and -3A.

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