The role of lysosomes in the cellular distribution of thioridazine and potential drug interactions

Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 1999 Jul 15;158(2):115-24. doi: 10.1006/taap.1999.8688.


The purpose of the present study was to investigate the contribution of lysosomal trapping to the total tissue uptake of thioridazine and to potential drug distribution interactions between thioridazine and tricyclic antidepressants (imipramine, amitriptyline) or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs; fluoxetine, sertraline). The experiment was carried out on slices of various rat tissues as a system with intact lysosomes. Thioridazine and antidepressants (5 microM) were incubated separately or jointly with the tissue slices in the absence or presence of "lysosomal inhibitors," i.e., ammonium chloride or monensin. The results show that the contribution of lysosomal trapping to the total tissue uptake of thioridazine is as important as phospholipid binding. A high degree of dependence of thioridazine tissue uptake on the lysosomal trapping is the cause of substantial distributive interactions between thioridazine and the investigated antidepressants at the level of cellular distribution. Thioridazine and the antidepressants, both tricyclic and SSRIs, mutually decreased their tissue uptake. The potency of antidepressants to decrease thioridazine uptake was similar to that of lysosomal inhibitors. In general, the observed interactions between thioridazine and antidepressants occurred only in those tissues in which thioridazine showed lysosomotropism (the lungs, liver, kidneys, brain, and muscles) but were not observed in the presence of ammonium chloride. The above finding provides evidence that the interactions proceeded at the level of lysosomal trapping. In the adipose tissue and heart no lysosomal trapping of thioridazine was detected and those tissues were not the site of such an interaction. Since the organs and tissues involved in the distributive interactions constitute a major part of the organism and take up most of the total drug in the body, the interactions occurring in them may cause a substantial shift of the drugs to organs and tissues poor in lysosomes, e.g. the heart and muscles. An in vivo study into the thioridazine-imipramine interaction showed that joint administration of the drugs under study (10 mg/kg ip) increased drug concentration ratios of lysosome-poor tissue/plasma and lysosome-poor/lysosome-rich tissue. Considering serious side effects of thioridazine and tricyclic antidepressants (cardiotoxicity, anticholinergic activity), the thioridazine-antidepressant combinations studied should be approached with respect to the appropriate dose adjustment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amitriptyline / pharmacokinetics
  • Ammonium Chloride / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Antidepressive Agents / pharmacokinetics*
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Drug Interactions
  • Fluoxetine / pharmacokinetics
  • Imipramine / pharmacokinetics
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Lysosomes / physiology*
  • Male
  • Monensin / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors / pharmacokinetics*
  • Sertraline / pharmacokinetics
  • Thioridazine / pharmacokinetics*


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors
  • Fluoxetine
  • Ammonium Chloride
  • Amitriptyline
  • Monensin
  • Thioridazine
  • Imipramine
  • Sertraline