Safety of high-intensity treatment with the irreversible monoamine oxidase inhibitor tranylcypromine in patients with treatment-resistant depression

Pharmacopsychiatry. 2008 Nov;41(6):252-7. doi: 10.1055/s-0028-1083819. Epub 2008 Dec 9.


Introduction: Because the irreversible monoamine oxidase inhibitor tranylcypromine (TCP) was introduced nearly 50 years ago, only few studies exist on today's clinical prescribing practice together with 2nd and 3rd generation psychotropic drugs.

Methods: We performed a practice-based observational study of patients with depression treated with TCP in two psychiatric departments in Berlin to assess side effects, effectiveness, comedication and acceptance of the low-tyramine diet.

Results: We identified thirty-two patients treated with TCP at a mean dose of 51.9 mg/day after an average of 3.3 pre-treatments in the current episode. Dosing of TCP and the use of multiple psychotropic comedications indicate a high-intensity treatment. The most frequent side effects resulted from arterial hypotonia (28%). Dietary restrictions were mainly rated as moderate. 59% of patients remitted (HAMD- (21)<9 or CGI-I=1) and 22% responded (HAMD- (21) reduction >50% or CGI-I=2).

Discussion: A high-intensity treatment of inpatients with TCP is clinically feasible, i.e., the use of high doses and multiple comedications with a good benefit-risk-ratio. Prospective data aiming at comparisons with modern antidepressants and clarifying further safety issues are warranted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antidepressive Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antidepressive Agents / adverse effects*
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Depressive Disorder / diet therapy
  • Depressive Disorder / drug therapy*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Diet
  • Drug Interactions
  • Drug Resistance
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors / administration & dosage
  • Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors / adverse effects*
  • Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tranylcypromine / administration & dosage
  • Tranylcypromine / adverse effects*
  • Tranylcypromine / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Tyramine / physiology


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors
  • Tranylcypromine
  • Tyramine