In this study we have evaluated the postmortem pharmacokinetics of amitriptyline (Ami) and metabolites in pigs after oral and intravenous administration, and the results are compared with previous studies in rats and humans. In addition a meticulous investigation of blood and tissue concentrations after postmortem intravenous infusion of Ami was undertaken. Of a total of 9 over-night fasted pigs, 3 were given 25 mg/Kg Ami orally, and another 3 pigs received an intravenous infusion lasting 1 h of 3.3 mg/Kg Ami prior to death. The final 3 pigs were sacrificed and then given the intravenous infusion after death. After ∼5 h at room temperature, all carcasses were subsequently stored at 4–5°C. Postmortem blood samples were collected at 0.25, 1, 2, 4, 8, 24, 48, and 96 h through an indwelling intracardial needle. Postmortem examination with blood and tissue sampling was performed 96 h after death. Analysis was carried out by high performance liquid chromatography with ultraviolet detection. Postmortem blood samples from the heart of the orally dosed animals revealed large and variable concentration increases of 99(30–243)% for Ami and 96(52–429)% for the main metabolite 10-OH-Ami at 96 h. In the intravenously infused live pigs heart blood Ami increased by 55(33–69)% and 10-OH-Ami increased by 232(76–240)%. Blood from the atria had significantly higher Ami concentrations than blood from both ventricles in the animals dosed while alive, and the drug concentration in femoral blood was higher than in heart blood (p < 0.01). In the orally dosed pigs the left lobe of the liver had significantly higher Ami levels than the right lobe.
Tissue/blood Ami concentration ratios were generally lower than previously reported in rats and approximating the levels reported in humans. The animals infused intravenously after death demonstrated high drug levels in blood samples from central vessels, heart, lungs as well as cerebrospinal fluid and vitreous humour. This implies that the presence of a lethal concentration of a drug in just one sample of heart blood can prove worthless in a case where agonal drug infusion may have occurred.