N-methyl-citalopram: A quaternary selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor

Yona Bismuth-Evenzal, Netta Roz, David Gurwitz, Moshe Rehavi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


We describe the synthesis and the pharmacological characterization of a new quaternary selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) N-methyl-citalopram (NMC) with periphery restricted action due to its inability to cross the blood brain barrier. NMC recognized and blocked the human platelet serotonin transporter (SERT) with similar affinity to that of citalopram as was evident from competition binding studies with [3H]citalopram and uptake studies with [3H]5-HT. In contrast, the affinity of NMC to rat brain SERT was 10-fold lower than its parent compound citalopram. Similarly to citalopram, NMC did not inhibit dopamine and noradrenaline uptake in rat brain synaptosomes at 10-7M as well as [3H]ketanserin binding to rat brain membranes at 10-5M, demonstrating its SSRI profile. A comparison of radioactivity retained in perfused mice brain following in vivo intraperitoneal injections of tritium-labeled NMC or citalopram showed that unlike citalopram, NMC did not penetrate the brain. Taken together, our observations suggest that N-methyl-citalopram is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor that does not penetrate the mouse brain. Epidemiological studies have suggested that chronic use of SSRI drugs may confer a protective effect against myocardial infarction (MI) apparently reflecting reduced platelet aggregation secondary to reduced platelet serotonin levels. N-methyl-citalopram may therefore have a potential as a new anti-platelet drug that does not cross the blood brain barrier and is thus devoid of the adverse CNS effects of SSRI drugs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1546-1552
Number of pages7
JournalBiochemical Pharmacology
Issue number10
StatePublished - 15 Nov 2010


  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Citalopram
  • Human serotonin transporter
  • Platelets
  • SLC6A4
  • SSRI


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