Acute toxicity from intravenous use of the tricyclic antidepressant tianeptine

Sara K. Dempsey, Justin L. Poklis, Kacie Sweat, Kirk Cumpston, Carl E. Wolf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Tianeptine (7-[([3-chloro-6,11]-dihydro-6-methyldibenzo[c,f][1,2]thiazepin-11-yl) amino] heptanoic acid S, S dioxide) is a tricyclic compound prescribed as an antidepressant in European countries, but is not currently approved for use in the United States. There are few published case reports of tianeptine intoxication. Presented is the first case of acute toxicity associated with the intravenous use of tianeptine. A 36-year-old male intentionally injected tianeptine powder intravenously to "help him see into the future". He became unresponsive and a bystander called emergency medical services. Upon arrival to the Emergency Department, excessive constriction of the pupils, sedation, and a respiratory rate of 6 respirations per minute (rpm) were noted. Blood and urine were collected ~2 h post admission. The patient's serum ethanol concentration was 133mg/dL. His toxicity was successfully reversed with two doses of naloxone 0.4mg IV. He was started on a naloxone infusion at 0.2mg/h and discharged 13 h after admittance awake, alert and oriented. The patient's urine sample screened negative for common drugs of abuse and total tricyclic antidepressants. A high performance liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry method was developed and validated to quantify tianeptine in urine. The calibration range was 1-100 ng/mL with linear regression correlation (r2) of 0.9996 or greater. The limit of quantitation was administratively set at 1 ng/mL. The bias of the assay was determined to be within ±20% of the target value for each quality control specimen. The intra-day and inter-day precision did not exceed 15% coefficient of variation for each quality control specimen. Matrix effects, absolute recovery, carryover and specificity were also evaluated. The patient's tianeptine urine concentration was determined to be 2 ng/mL.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)547-550
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Analytical Toxicology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jul 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Chemical Health and Safety


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