The pharmacokinetics of nortriptyline in patients with chronic renal failure

Br J Clin Pharmacol. 1981 Jul;12(1):39-45. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2125.1981.tb01852.x.


1 The pharmacokinetics of single oral doses of nortriptyline were studied in twenty patients with chronic renal failure, eight of whom were receiving treatment with haemodialysis. 2 The median nortriptyline half-life was 25.2 h (range 14.5-140.0 h) and the median nortriptyline clearance was 32.3 l/h (range 8.1-122.0 l/h). 3 No differences were observed between the dialysed and non-dialysed groups. 4 Comparisons of nortriptyline half-life and clearance between the patients and groups of physically healthy subjects revealed no significant differences. 5 There was no significant linear correlation between age and either of these measurements. In the twelve patients not receiving haemodialysis there was no correlation between nortriptyline clearance and glomerular filtration rate. 6 Chronic renal failure is not associated with a significant alteration in nortriptyline metabolism as measured by its half-life or clearance, but the drug should nonetheless be used with caution, and monitored whenever possible. However, the marked inter-individual differences observed in nortriptyline half-life and clearance in patients with chronic renal failure may not be solely responsible for their unpredictable response to tricyclic antidepressant therapy, and other possible contributory factors are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Half-Life
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / metabolism*
  • Kinetics
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nortriptyline / metabolism*
  • Protein Binding


  • Nortriptyline