Time-dependent changes in brain monoamine oxidase activity and in brain levels of monoamines and amino acids following acute administration of the antidepressant/antipanic drug phenelzine

Biochem Pharmacol. 2000 May 15;59(10):1253-63. doi: 10.1016/s0006-2952(00)00244-6.


Phenelzine (PLZ) is a non-selective monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitor commonly used to treat depression and panic disorder. Acute administration of PLZ produces several neurochemical changes, including an increase in brain levels of the catecholamines norepinephrine (NE) and dopamine (DA), of 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT), and of the amino acids alanine and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). The goal of the present series of experiments was to characterize the time course of these PLZ-induced changes. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were sacrificed 6, 24, 48, 96, 168, or 336 hr after acute PLZ administration (15 or 30 mg/kg, i.p., based on free base weight). Whole brain levels of monoamines and amino acids were determined using HPLC, and MAO A and B activities were determined using a radiochemical procedure. The results indicated that PLZ changed amino acid levels 6 and 24 hr after injection, but not 48 hr later. In contrast, the effects of PLZ on MAO activity and monoamines were longer-lasting. For example, PLZ-induced increases in dopamine and 5-HT were observed 1 week after injection, and PLZ-induced inhibition of MAO activity persisted for 2 weeks. Thus, in addition to demonstrating that the effects of PLZ on MAO activity and monoamines were long-lasting, these results indicate that the effects of PLZ on MAO activity and on brain levels of monoamines and amino acids are temporally dissociated. These findings regarding the long-term effects of PLZ on neurochemistry will have considerable critical implications for the design and interpretation of behavioral studies of the acute effects of PLZ.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Antidepressive Agents / pharmacology*
  • Biogenic Monoamines / metabolism*
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Brain / enzymology
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Male
  • Monoamine Oxidase / metabolism*
  • Phenelzine / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Time Factors


  • Amino Acids
  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Biogenic Monoamines
  • Monoamine Oxidase
  • Phenelzine