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Biomed Chromatogr. 2011 Jan;25(1-2):238-57. doi: 10.1002/bmc.1542. Epub 2010 Nov 5.

Analytical procedures for the determination of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressant citalopram and its metabolites.

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  • 1Department of Analytical Chemistry, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Basque Country, Paseo de la Universidad 7, 01006 Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain.


The antidepressant citalopram (CIT) is a potent and highly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) which has been introduced in therapy as a racemic drug. CIT has been used to treat central nervous system affective disorders such as depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorders, various phobias, borderline personality disorders, bipolar disorders as well as indications wherein inhibition of serotonin reuptake is desired. CIT is demethylated to demethylcitalopram (DCIT) and didemethylcitalopram (DDCIT), which retain considerable activity as SSRIs. Therefore, in recent years, the monitoring of the levels of these analytes in biological fluids for toxicological and therapeutic purposes has been a target worthy of interest. In addition, the differences in activity between CIT enantiomers established the need to assess its behaviour in the field of pharmacological research. It is also necessary to develop analytical methodologies that make it possible to determine the levels of enantiomer concentrations. This review includes most of the published analytical methods for achiral assay of racemic CIT and its metabolites based on high-performance liquid chromatography coupled with UV, fluorescence and mass spectrometry detectors, capillary electrophoresis and gas chromatography with mass spectrometry detectors among others. With regard to the monitoring of enantiomers of CIT and of its metabolites, stereoselective methods based on chiral chromatographic columns, chiral additives in mobile phases and on the derivatization with a chiral reagent are also collected. In addition, different procedures of extraction are mentioned as well as liquid-liquid extraction, solid-phase extraction, solid-phase microextraction, automated online extraction or liquid-phase microextraction in different biological and environmental samples.

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