The bottom line on this article is that despite being given a set dose of 60 mg/day to each of 66 depression patients, the serum levels varied from 30-120 ng/mL after 3 months. That means that the person with the highest level in their blood had 4 times as much in their system than the person with the lowest level. Of course the higher the blood serum level the better it controlled depression.
Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2019 Jun 8;92:127-132. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2019.01.001. Epub 2019 Jan 3.
Duloxetine plasma level and antidepressant response.
Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is associated with a high rate of inadequate treatment response, which is mainly due to the large inter-individual genetic variability in pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic targets of antidepressant drugs. Little is still known about the exact association between plasma level of first-line antidepressants and clinical response. This is particularly true for duloxetine, a dual serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor recommended as first-line treatment for MDD. The aim of this study was to investigate the association between serum concentration of duloxetine (SCD) and antidepressant response (AR).
66 MDD patients treated with duloxetine 60 mg/day monotherapy were recruited in an outpatient setting and followed for three months. Hamilton Depression Rating Scale - 21 (HAMD-21) was administrated at baseline, at month 1, and at month 3 to assess AR. SCD was measured at steady state. Linear regression analysis and nonlinear least-squares regression were used to estimate association between SCD and AR.
SCD showed a high inter-individual variability in our sample, despite the duloxetine fixed oral dosage. We found a strong association between SCD and AR following a bell-shaped function at month 1 and at month 3. Nonetheless, within the recommended SCD range of 30-120 ng/mL a more linear correlation between SCD and AR was observed.
Our results suggest that for duloxetine the association between SCD and AR likely follows a bell-shaped quadratic function with poor AR at subtherapeutic SCD and progressive decrease of AR at higher SCD. The maximum antidepressant efficacy seems to require SCD values next to the highest recommended SCD (30-120 ng/mL), probably because of the optimal saturation of both serotonin and norepinephrine transporters. Thus, taking into account the observed high interindividual variability of SCD, our findings suggest that for MDD patients treated with duloxetine, SCD could be a useful tool to guide the treatment by optimizing the oral dosage in order to increase the AR rate.