Tyramine and irreversible monoamine oxidase inhibitors in clinical practice

Br J Psychiatry Suppl. 1989 Oct;(6):38-45.


The cheese reaction following use of the irreversible monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) began to be reported in the UK with increasing frequency from about 1961. By 1965, the underlying mechanism (tyramine-provoked hypertension) had been essentially elucidated. Thereafter, this potentially severe side-effect could have been largely avoided by the use of fairly simple dietary precautions. Unfortunately, suspicion and fear burgeoned, and both the seriousness and the frequency of risk were dramatically inflated. This was a major factor in the subsequent general disuse of the irreversible MAOIs. Second-generation MAOIs which are selective for monoamine oxidase-A and B are now being synthesised and may eliminate the eventuality of hypertension without special dietary precautions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Cheese / adverse effects*
  • Depressive Disorder / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors / administration & dosage
  • Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors / adverse effects*
  • Risk Factors
  • Tyramine / administration & dosage
  • Tyramine / adverse effects*


  • Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors
  • Tyramine