Citalopram and Cannabidiol: In Vitro and In Vivo Evidence of Pharmacokinetic Interactions Relevant to the Treatment of Anxiety Disorders in Young People
Background: Cannabidiol (CBD), a major nonintoxicating constituent of cannabis, exhibits anxiolytic properties in preclinical and human studies and is of interest as a novel intervention for treating anxiety disorders. Existing first-line pharmacotherapies for these disorders include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor and other antidepressants. Cannabidiol has well-described inhibitory action on cytochrome P450 (CYP450) drug-metabolizing enzymes and significant drug-drug interactions (DDIs) between CBD and various anticonvulsant medications (eg, clobazam) have been described in the treatment of epilepsy. Here, we examined the likelihood of DDIs when CBD is added to medications prescribed in the treatment of anxiety.
Methods: The effect of CBD on CYP450-mediated metabolism of the commonly used antidepressants fluoxetine, sertraline, citalopram, and mirtazapine were examined in vitro. Cannabidiol-citalopram interactions were also examined in vivo in patients (n = 6) with anxiety disorders on stable treatment with citalopram or escitalopram who received ascending daily doses of adjunctive CBD (200-800 mg) over 12 weeks in a recent clinical trial.
Results: Cannabidiol minimally affected the metabolism of sertraline, fluoxetine, and mirtazapine in vitro. However, CBD significantly inhibited CYP3A4 and CYP2C19-mediated metabolism of citalopram and its stereoisomer escitalopram at physiologically relevant concentrations, suggesting a possible in vivo DDI. In patients on citalopram or escitalopram, the addition of CBD significantly increased citalopram plasma concentrations, although it was uncertain whether this also increased selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor-mediated adverse events.
Conclusions: Further pharmacokinetic examination of the interaction between CBD and citalopram/escitalopram is clearly warranted, and clinicians should be vigilant around the possibility of treatment-emergent adverse effects when CBD is introduced to patients taking these antidepressants.