Quetiapine is a new atypical antipsychotic that was approved in 1997 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of schizophrenia. It possesses a high affinity for 5-HT2 receptors and a low affinity for D1 and D2 dopamine receptors. Because quetiapine has only been released recently to the U.S. market, little information exists regarding therapeutic, toxic, and lethal concentrations. This study reports the detection of quetiapine in 13 postmortem cases. Following a basic liquid-liquid extraction, quetiapine was identified and quantitated by capillary gas chromatography with nitrogen phosphorus detection. Confirmation was accomplished by full scan electron impact gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. Heart blood quetiapine concentrations ranged from 0.07 to 18.37 mg/L (N = 12, mean ± SD = 3.42 ± 5.67, median 0.62) and femoral blood concentrations ranged from 0.06 to 19.25 mg/L (N = 10, mean ± SD= 3.89 ± 6.12, median 0.81). The average heart blood/femoral blood ratio was 1.31 (range 0.55 to 2.57, N = 10). Urine, bile, and gastric contents were assayed in all cases in which they were submitted. In three cases, the cause of death was determined to be quetiapine toxicity. In these cases heart blood concentrations ranged from 0.72 to 18.37 mg/L (N = 3). These data may provide a basis for establishing levels associated with quetiapine toxicity as well as therapeutic concentrations in postmortem specimens.
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