Effects of monoamine oxidase inhibition by clorgyline, deprenil or tranylcypromine on 5-hydroxytryptamine concentrations in rat brain and hyperactivity following subsequent tryptophan administration

Br J Pharmacol. 1975 Nov;55(3):415-22. doi: 10.1111/j.1476-5381.1975.tb06946.x.


1 The effect of various doses of tranylcypromine on the degree of inhibition of rat brain monoamine oxidase (MAO) using 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT), dopamine and phenylethylamine as substrates has been examined 120 min after injection of the inhibitor. The concentration of brain 5-HT was also examined both after tranylcypromine alone and also when L-tryptophan (100 mg/kg) had been given 30 min after the tranylcypromine. 2 All doses of tranylcypromine greater than 2.5 mg/kg totally inhibited MAO oxidation of 5-HT, phenylethylamine and dopamine as measured in vitro and produced a similar rise of brain 5-HT in vivo. When tryptophan was also given, there was a further rise of brain 5-HT, which was comparable after all doses of tranylcypromine above 2.5 mg/kg and the characteristic syndrome of hyperactivity made is appearance. 3 Clorgyline (a "Type A" MAO inhibitor), in doses up to 10 mg/kg, did not totally inhibit MAO activity towards phenylethylamine although it did inhibit 5-HT oxidation by 100%. Deprenil (a "Type B" MAO inhibitor) at doses up to 10 mg/kg did not fully inhibit 5-HT oxidation although phenylethylamine oxidation was inhibited almost completely. Administration of either compound alone did not produce as great an accumulation of brain 5-HT as that seen after tranylcypromine (2.5 mg/kg) and subsequent administration of tryptophan did not cause hyperactivity or the rise of brain 5-HT seen after tranylcypromine (2.5 mg/kg) plus tryptophan. 4 Administration of clorgyline plus deprenil (2.5 mg/kg of each) almost totally inhibited oxidation of both 5-HT and phenylethylamine; subsequent tryptophan administration resulted in a rise of brain 5-HT nearly as great as that seen following tranylcypromine (2.5 mg/kg) plus tryptophan and the animals became hyperactive. 5 No evidence was found pointing to the formation of any other 5-substituted indole in the brain following tranylcypromine plus L-tryptophan administration as suggested by others. 6 It is concluded that while 5-HT may normally be metabolized in the brain by "Tye A" MAO in vivo, when this form is inhibited, 5-HT can still be metabolized by "Type B" enzyme. It is only when both forms are almost totally inhibited that the largest rise of brain 5-HT is seen and subsequent tryptophan administration produces the hyperactivity syndrome.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Clorgyline / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Motor Activity / drug effects*
  • Phenethylamines / pharmacology*
  • Propylamines / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Serotonin / metabolism*
  • Stimulation, Chemical
  • Time Factors
  • Tranylcypromine / pharmacology*
  • Tryptophan / metabolism
  • Tryptophan / pharmacology*


  • Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors
  • Phenethylamines
  • Propylamines
  • Serotonin
  • Tranylcypromine
  • Tryptophan
  • Clorgyline