Nortriptyline metabolism in chronic renal failure: metabolite elimination

Clin Pharmacol Ther. 1982 Sep;32(3):322-9. doi: 10.1038/clpt.1982.167.


Single oral dose kinetics of nortriptyline and of tis two major metabolites, conjugated and unconjugated 20-hydroxynortriptyline, were studied in eight healthy subjects and 15 patients with chronic renal failure, five of whom were being treated with hemodialysis. Nortriptyline kinetics were unaltered, but the elimination of the metabolites was reduced in both groups of patients. In chronic renal failure the excretion of nortriptyline metabolites appeared to be the rate-limiting step in nortriptyline elimination. Three depressed hemodialysis patients were treated with nortriptyline (75 mg at night) for 6 wk. The ratios of the steady-state plasma concentrations of unconjugated 10-hydroxynortriptyline to nortriptyline (0.74 to 2.30) were in the same range as those in a control group of depressed patients with adequate renal function (0.53 to 4.08) who were also receiving nortriptyline. Conjugated 10-hydroxynortriptyline in renal failure patients was slow to reach steady-state concentrations and these were 10 to 20 times as high as those of the control depressed patients. Conjugated 10-hydroxynortriptyline in dialysis fluid during treatment showed that a mean 43 +/- 7% (SD) of the dose was removed by a 10-hr dialysis. Dialysis clearance of conjugated 10-hydroxynortriptyline was 58 +/- 8 (SD) ml min-1, but nortriptyline and unconjugated 10-hydroxynortriptyline were not appreciably removed by dialysis. Hemodialysis is not likely to be of value in the management of acute nortriptyline poisoning.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Chromatography, Gas
  • Depressive Disorder / drug therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / metabolism*
  • Kinetics
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nortriptyline / analogs & derivatives
  • Nortriptyline / blood
  • Nortriptyline / metabolism*
  • Nortriptyline / therapeutic use
  • Renal Dialysis


  • 10-hydroxynortriptyline
  • Nortriptyline