CITAL - Clinical: Citalopram, Serum

Test Catalog

Test Name

Test ID: CITAL    
Citalopram, Serum

Useful For Suggests clinical disorders or settings where the test may be helpful

Monitoring citalopram therapy


Identifying noncompliance, although regular blood level monitoring is not indicated in most patients


Identifying states of altered drug metabolism when used in conjunction with CYP2C19 and CYP3A4-5 genotyping

Clinical Information Discusses physiology, pathophysiology, and general clinical aspects, as they relate to a laboratory test

Citalopram (Celexa) and S-citalopram (escitalopram, Lexapro) are approved for treatment of depression. Celexa is a racemic mixture containing equal amounts of R- and S-enantiomer. Metabolites of citalopram (N-desmethylcitalopram) are less active than citalopram and do not accumulate in serum to clinically significant concentration.


Citalopram metabolism is carried out by cytochrome P450 (CYP) 2C19 and 3A4-5. CYP 2D6 may play a minor role in citalopram metabolism. Citalopram is known to reduce CYP 2D6 activity. Citalopram clearance is significantly affected by reduced hepatic function, but only slightly by reduced renal function.


A typical Celexa dose administered to an adult is 40-mg per day. A typical Lexapro dose is 20-mg per day. Citalopram is 80% protein bound, and the apparent volume of distribution is 12 L/Kg. Bioavailability is 80% and protein binding is 56% for either form of the drug. Time to peak serum concentration is 4 hours, and the elimination half-life is 35 hours. Half-life is increased in the elderly. Dosage reductions may be necessary for patients who are elderly or have reduced hepatic function.

Reference Values Describes reference intervals and additional information for interpretation of test results. May include intervals based on age and sex when appropriate. Intervals are Mayo-derived, unless otherwise designated. If an interpretive report is provided, the reference value field will state this.

50-110 ng/mL

Interpretation Provides information to assist in interpretation of the test results

Steady-state serum concentrations associated with optimal response to citalopram are in the range of 50 to 100 ng/mL when the patient is administered the R,S-enantiomeric mixture (Celexa).


The most common toxicities associated with excessive serum concentration are fatigue, impotence, insomnia, and anticholinergic effects. The toxic range for citalopram is >220 ng/mL.

Cautions Discusses conditions that may cause diagnostic confusion, including improper specimen collection and handling, inappropriate test selection, and interfering substances

Test interpretation requires knowledge of which enantiomers (R, S- or S-) are prescribed; this assay does not distinguish the enantiomers.

Clinical Reference Recommendations for in-depth reading of a clinical nature

1. Hiemke C, Baumann P, Bergemann N, et al: AGNP consensus guidelines for therapeutic drug monitoring in psychiatry: update 2011. Pharmacopsychiatry 2011;44:195-235

2. Tietz Textbook of Clinical Chemistry and Molecular Diagnostics. Edited by CA Burtis, ER Ashwood, DE Bruns. Elsevier, Mosby, Saunders, 2011