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Concept: Monoamine oxidase inhibitor


Harmine is the β-carboline alkaloid with the highest concentration in the psychotropic plant decoction Ayahuasca. In rodents, classical antidepressants reverse the symptoms of depression by stimulating neuronal proliferation. It has been shown that Ayahuasca presents antidepressant effects in patients with depressive disorder. In the present study, we investigated the effects of harmine in cell cultures containing human neural progenitor cells (hNPCs, 97% nestin-positive) derived from pluripotent stem cells. After 4 days of treatment, the pool of proliferating hNPCs increased by 71.5%. Harmine has been reported as a potent inhibitor of the dual specificity tyrosine-phosphorylation-regulated kinase (DYRK1A), which regulates cell proliferation and brain development. We tested the effect of analogs of harmine, an inhibitor of DYRK1A (INDY), and an irreversible selective inhibitor of monoamine oxidase (MAO) but not DYRK1A (pargyline). INDY but not pargyline induced proliferation of hNPCs similarly to harmine, suggesting that inhibition of DYRK1A is a possible mechanism to explain harmine effects upon the proliferation of hNPCs. Our findings show that harmine enhances proliferation of hNPCs and suggest that inhibition of DYRK1A may explain its effects upon proliferation in vitro and antidepressant effects in vivo.

Concepts: Neuron, Monoamine oxidase, Serotonin, Stem cell, Monoamine oxidase inhibitor, Progenitor cell, Developmental biology, Cell biology


A new scaffold of hydrazothiazoles has been designed as monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors combining the hydrazine moiety of iproniazid and the thiazole nucleus of glitazones, a class of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR)γ agonists recently co-crystallized with human MAO-B. The resulting derivatives were synthesized and assayed to evaluate their in vitro activity against both the A and B isoforms of hMAO. All compounds were shown to be selective hMAO-B inhibitors with IC(50) values in the low micromolar/high nanomolar range. Such results suggest that the hydrazothiazole scaffold could be considered as an interesting pharmacophore for the future design of new lead compounds as coadjuvants for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.

Concepts: Nuclear receptor, Oxidase, Neuroscience, Serotonin, Monoamine oxidase inhibitor, Monoamine oxidase B, Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor, Monoamine oxidase


Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a complex neurodegenerative disorder with a multifaceted pathogenesis. There are at present three Food and Drug Administration-approved drugs based on the “one drug, one target” paradigm (donepezil, galantamine and rivastigmine) that improve symptoms by inhibiting acetylcholinesterase. However, apart from the beneficial palliative properties, cholinergic drugs have shown little efficacy to prevent the progression of the disease evidencing the unsuitability of this strategy for the complex nature of AD. By contrast, the multifactorial nature of this neurodegenerative disorder supports the most current innovative therapeutic approach based on the “one drug, multiple targets” paradigm, which suggests the use of compounds with multiple activities at different target sites. Accordingly, the also called multitarget-directed ligand (MTDL) approach has been the subject of increasing attention by many research groups, which have developed a variety of hybrid compounds acting on very diverse targets. The therapeutic potential of monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI) in AD has been suggested due to their demonstrated neuroprotective properties besides their enhancing effect on monoaminergic transmission. Especially, those containing a propargylamine moiety are of particular interest due to their reported beneficial actions. Therefore, targeting MAO enzymes should be considered in therapeutic interventions. This review makes a special emphasis on MTDLs that commonly target MAO enzymes. There is at present an urgent need for real disease-modifying therapies for AD and the MTDL approach makes a breakthrough for the development of new drugs capable of addressing the biological complexity of this disorder.

Concepts: Acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, Neurology, Memantine, Monoamine oxidase inhibitor, Acetylcholine, Neurotransmitter, Alzheimer's disease, Monoamine oxidase


In a previous study we have investigated the monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitory properties of a series of 8-sulfanylcaffeine analogues. Among the compounds studied, 8-[(phenylethyl)sulfanyl]caffeine (IC(50)=0.223μM) was found to be a particularly potent inhibitor of the type B MAO isoform. In an attempt to discover potent MAO inhibitors and to further examine the structure-activity relationships (SAR) of MAO inhibition by 8-sulfanylcaffeine analogues, in the present study a series of 8-[(phenylethyl)sulfanyl]caffeine analogues were synthesized and evaluated as inhibitors of human MAO-A and -B. The results document that substitution on C3 and C4 of the phenyl ring with alkyl groups and halogens yields 8-[(phenylethyl)sulfanyl]caffeine analogues which are potent and selective MAO-B inhibitors with IC(50) values ranging from 0.017 to 0.125μM. The MAO inhibitory properties of a series of 8-sulfinylcaffeine analogues were also examined. The results show that, compared to the corresponding 8-sulfanylcaffeine analogues, the 8-sulfinylcaffeins are weaker MAO-B inhibitors. Both the 8-sulfanylcaffeine and 8-sulfinylcaffeine analogues were found to be weak MAO-A inhibitors. This study also reports the MAO inhibition properties of selected 8-[(phenylpropyl)sulfanyl]caffeine analogues.

Concepts: Monoamine oxidase A, Monoamine oxidase inhibitor, Xanthine oxidase inhibitor, Enzyme inhibitor, Inhibitor, Functional groups, Neurotransmitter, Monoamine oxidase


Here we report that indazole is characterized as a potential anticonvulsant, inhibiting pentylenetetrazole-, electroshock- and strychnine-induced convulsions in mice (ED(50)’s: 39.9, 43.2 and 82.4mg/kg, respectively) but not bicuculline- and picrotoxin-induced convulsions. The median toxic dose (TD(50)) of indazole was 52.3mg/kg by the minimal motor impairment test. Therefore, nontoxic doses produced anticonvulsant activity against pentylenetetrazole- and electroshock-induced seizures. Indazole (50mg/kg) had no effect on spontaneous activity but induced hypothermia. It also inhibited the metabolism of dopamine and 5-hydroxytryptamine in the brain in vivo and the activities of monoamine oxidase A and B in vitro, with IC(50) values of 20.6μM and 16.3μM, respectively. However, these inhibitory effects do not account for the anticonvulsant activity because treatment with typical monoamine oxidase inhibitors such as pargyline or tranylcypromine did not completely reproduce the anticonvulsant activity of indazole. In the animal seizure models tested, the anticonvulsant profile of indazole most resembled that of gabapentin and somewhat resembled those of the AMPA/kainate antagonist NBQX and the sodium channel inhibitor phenytoin, but differed from that of benzodiazepine. The isobolographic analyses showed that the interactive mode of indazole with gabapentin, NBQX or phenytoin is additive. These results suggest that indazole has anticonvulsant activity and multiple mechanisms.

Concepts: Neurology, Anticonvulsant, Monoamine oxidase inhibitor, Xanthine oxidase inhibitor, Epilepsy, Neurotransmitter, Seizure, Monoamine oxidase


Ayahuasca is a hallucinogenic botanical mixture originating in the Amazon area where it is used ritually, but is now being taken globally. The 2 main constituents of ayahuasca are N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT), a hallucinogen, and harmine, a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) which attenuates the breakdown of DMT, which would otherwise be broken down very quickly after oral consumption. Recent developments in ayahuasca use include the sale of these compounds on the internet and the substitution of related botanical (anahuasca) or synthetic (pharmahuasca) compounds to achieve the same desired hallucinogenic effects. One intriguing result of ayahuasca use appears to be improved mental health and a reduction in recidivism to alternate (alcohol, cocaine) drug use. In this review we discuss the pharmacology of ayahuasca, with a focus on harmine, and suggest pharmacological mechanisms for the putative reduction in recidivism to alcohol and cocaine misuse. These pharmacological mechanisms include MAOI, effects at 5-HT(2A) and imidazoline receptors and inhibition of dual-specificity tyrosine-phosphorylation regulated kinase 1A (DYRK1A) and the dopamine transporter. We also speculate on the therapeutic potential of harmine in other CNS conditions.

Concepts: Serotonin, Psychedelics, dissociatives and deliriants, Drug, Dopamine, Monoamine oxidase inhibitor, Ayahuasca, Dimethyltryptamine, Monoamine oxidase


A series of C7-substituted chromone (1-benzopyran-4-one) derivatives were synthesized and evaluated as inhibitors of recombinant human monoamine oxidase (MAO) A and B. The chromones are structurally related to a series of C7-functionalized coumarin (1-benzopyran-2-one) derivatives which has been reported to act as potent MAO inhibitors. The results of the current study document that the chromones are highly potent reversible inhibitors of MAO-B with IC(50) values ranging from 0.008 to 0.370μM. While the chromone derivatives also exhibit affinities for MAO-A, with IC(50) values ranging from 0.495 to 8.03μM, they are selective for the MAO-B isoform. Structure-activity relationships (SAR) show that 7-benzyloxy substitution of chromone is suitable for MAO-B inhibition with tolerance for a variety of substituents and substitution patterns on the benzyloxy ring. It may be concluded that 7-benzyloxychromones are appropriate lead compounds for the design of reversible and selective MAO-B inhibitors. With the aid of modeling studies, potential binding orientations and interactions of selected chromone derivatives in the MAO-A and -B active sites are examined.

Concepts: Monoamine oxidase A, Antidepressant, Xanthine oxidase inhibitor, Enzyme inhibitor, Phenethylamine, Serotonin syndrome, Monoamine oxidase inhibitor, Monoamine oxidase


Ion mobility spectrometry (IMS) served as a rapid, qualitative screening tool for the analysis of adulterated weight-loss products. We have previously shown that sibutramine extracted into methanol from dietary supplements can be detected at low levels (2ng) using a portable IMS spectrometer, and have adapted a similar method for the analysis of additional weight-loss product adulterants. An FDA collaborative study helped to define the limits for fluoxetine with a limit of detection of 2ng. We also evaluated more readily available, less toxic extraction solvents and found isopropanol and water were comparable to methanol. Isopropanol was favored over water for two reasons: (1) water increases the analysis time and (2) aqueous solutions were more susceptible to pH change, which affected the detection of sibutramine. In addition to sibutamine and fluoxetine, we surveyed 11 weight-loss adulterants; bumetanide, fenfluramine, furosemide, orlistat, phenolphthalein, phentermine, phenytoin, rimonabant, sertraline and two sibutramine analogs, desmethylsibutramine and didesmethylsibutramine, using portable and benchtop ion mobility spectrometers. Out of these 13 active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), portable and benchtop ion mobility spectrometers were capable of screening products for 10 of these APIs. The developed procedure was applied to two weight-loss dietary supplements using both portable and benchtop instruments. One product contained didesmethylsibutramine while the other contained didesmethylsibutramine and phenolphthalein.

Concepts: Obesity, Chemistry, Pharmaceutical drug, Mass spectrometry, Ethanol, Ion mobility spectrometry, Monoamine oxidase inhibitor, Active ingredient


Hypericum perforatum is, with Ginkgo biloba, one of the most frequently prescribed medicinal plants in the world. Its popular name, St. John’s wort (SJW), is due to the fact that its flowers, yellow, are gathered around the feast of St. John the Baptist (24th June) whereas “wort” is an old English word for plant. Of interest, SJW possesses antidepressant actions and is currently used to alleviate symptoms of mild to moderate depression. Nearly two dozens of bioactive compounds have been isolated from SJW. Hypericin, originally described as a monoamine oxidase inhibitor type A, was thought to be responsible for the antidepressant properties of SJW extracts. However, subsequent studies could not confirm this observation and hyperforin, a phloroglucinol derivative, was shown to display antidepressive properties. Indeed, the efficiency of the extracts of SJW has been reported to be dependent on the concentration of hyperforin. However, its effects on brain cells and on the mechanisms underlying its putative clinical antidepressant effect remain poorly characterized.

Concepts: Monoamine oxidase, Monoamine oxidase inhibitor, Antidepressants, Antidepressant, Venlafaxine, St John's wort, Hyperforin, Hypericum


Adiponectin production during adipocyte differentiation of human bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (hBM-MSCs) can be used to evaluate the pharmacological activity of anti-diabetic drugs to improve insulin sensitivity. Monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors such as phenelzine and pargyline inhibit adipogenesis in murine pre-adipocytes. In this study, however, we found that selective MAO-A inhibitors, moclobemide and Ro41-1049, and a selective MAO-B inhibitor, selegiline, promoted adiponectin production during adipocyte differentiation in hBM-MSCs, which suggested the anti-diabetic potential of these drugs. In contrast, non-selective MAO inhibitors, phenelzine and tranylcypromine, inhibited adipocyte differentiation of hBM-MSCs. Concomitant treatments of MAO-A and MAO-B selective inhibitors did not change the stimulatory effect on adiponectin production in hBM-MSCs. Taken together, the opposite effects of isotype-selective MAO inhibitors on adiponectin production during adipogenesis in hBM-MSCs may not be directly associated with the inhibitory effects of MAO, suggested that the structure of MAO inhibitors may contain a novel anti-diabetic pharmacophore.

Concepts: Xanthine oxidase inhibitor, Monoamine oxidase inhibitors, Serotonin syndrome, Stem cell, Mesenchymal stem cell, Monoamine oxidase inhibitor, Bone marrow, Monoamine oxidase