Drug exposure and clinical effect of transdermal mirtazapine in healthy young cats: a pilot study

Kellyi K. Benson, Lara B. Zajic, Paula K. Morgan, Sarah R. Brown, Ryan J. Hansen, Paul J. Lunghofer, Luke Anthony Wittenburg, Daniel L. Gustafson, Jessica M. Quimby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Objectives: The objective of this study was to measure drug exposure and clinical effects after administration of transdermal mirtazapine (TMZ) in healthy cats. Methods: Phase I: seven healthy research cats received (1) 3.75 mg and 7.5 mg TMZ once aurally with 48 h serum sampling (serum samples were obtained via the jugular catheter at 0, 0.5, 1, 2, 5, 9, 12, 24, 36 and 48 h); (2) 7.5 mg TMZ and placebo daily aurally for 6 days then 48 h serum sampling; (3) 1.88 mg mirtazapine orally once with serum sampling at 1, 4 and 8 h. Phase II: 20 client-owned cats were enrolled in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, three-way crossover clinical effect study. Treatments consisted of 6 days of aural 7.5 mg TMZ or placebo gel at home, and 1.88 mg mirtazapine orally once in the clinic. Owners documented appetite, rate of food ingestion, begging activity and vocalization daily at home. On day 6, food consumed, activity and vocalization were documented in hospital, and trough and peak serum mirtazapine levels were obtained. Serum mirtazapine and gel concentrations were measured using liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry. Results: Phase I: administration of TMZ achieved measureable serum mirtazapine concentrations. Area under the curve0–48 of multidose 7.5 mg TMZ was significantly higher than single-dose 1.88 mg oral mirtazapine (OMZ) (P = 0.02). Phase II: client-owned cats administered TMZ had a significant increase in appetite (P = 0.003), rate of food ingestion (P = 0.002), activity (P = 0.002), begging (P = 0.002) and vocalization (P = 0.002) at home. In hospital there was a significant increase in food ingested with both TMZ and OMZ compared with placebo (P <0.05). Gel concentrations ranged from 87%–119% of target dose. Conclusions and relevance: TMZ 7.5 mg daily achieves measureable serum concentrations and produces significant appetite stimulation despite variance in compounded gel concentrations, but side effects denote a lower dose is indicated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)998-1006
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Feline Medicine and Surgery
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Small Animals


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