We describe automated column-switching high-performance liquid chromatography for determining nine tricyclic and tetracyclic antidepressants (TCAs) and their metabolites in human serum. TSKgel ODS-80TM and TSKprecolumn PW (Tosoh Co., Tokyo) are used in the analytical column and the precolumn, respectively. A 200-μL serum sample is directly injected onto the precolumn. After washing the serum proteins from the precolumn with potassium phosphate buffer, the precolumn connection is switched to introduce the retained substances onto the analytical column. The drugs are then eluted within 30 min with an acetonitrile/potassium phosphate buffer mixture containing sodium 1-heptanesulfonate. The analytical recoveries (95-104%), reproducibilities (within-run CV <3%), and detection limits (10 μg/L) indicate that this HPLC system is suited for therapeutic drug monitoring. Correlations were good between the TCA concentrations in serum and administered dose (r = 0.713, n = 41), and between 10-hydroxynortriptyline and nortriptyline in serum (r = 0.691, n = 24).
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