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Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 1999 Dec;9(6):453-9.

Cytochrome P450 and therapeutic drug monitoring with respect to clozapine.

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Institute of Public Health, Clinical Pharmacology, University of Southern Denmark-Odense University.


Clozapine is an atypical antipsychotic drug that is mainly used for the treatment of refractory schizophrenia. Clozapine is eliminated by oxidation in the liver, predominantly by cytochrome P4501A2 (CYP1A2). Due to the influence of inhibitors, inducers and genetic factors on CYP1A2-activity, several studies have reported a very large interindividual variability in clozapine plasma concentrations at a fixed dose. A number of methods have been published for the measurement of clozapine and metabolites in plasma. Plasma concentrations are most frequently measured by high-performance liquid chromatography. Most methods measure clozapine and the main metabolite, norclozapine, whereas two methods measure clozapine and two metabolites. Several studies suggest that a minimum effective clozapine plasma concentration of >350 microg/l must be achieved in order to ensure acceptable clinical response, whereas the upper limit of the therapeutic interval not yet has been clearly defined. The occurrence of agranulocytosis, the most serious side-effect of clozapine treatment does not seem to be dose-related and it is not possible to predict which patients are at risk of developing agranulocytosis. The risk of central nervous system side-effects seems to increase with concentrations above 1300 microg/l. Monitoring of clozapine plasma concentrations is recommended during concomitant use of other drugs that are known to interact with the oxidation of clozapine, such as carbamazepine (inducer) or fluvoxamine (inhibitor). Overall, it is concluded that therapeutic drug monitoring may be of value in the clinical management of clozapine.

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