Agmatine, a potential novel therapeutic strategy for depression

Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2016 Dec;26(12):1885-1899. doi: 10.1016/j.euroneuro.2016.10.013. Epub 2016 Nov 8.


Major depressive disorder is the most common psychiatric disorder with lifetime prevalence of up to 20% worldwide. It is responsible for more years lost to disability than any other disorder. Despite the fact that current available antidepressant drugs are safe and effective, they are far from ideal. In addition to the need to administer the drugs for weeks or months to obtain clinical benefit, side effects are still a serious problem. Agmatine is an endogenous polyamine synthesized by the enzyme arginine decarboxylase. It modulates several receptors and is considered as a neuromodulator in the brain. In this review, studies demonstrating the antidepressant effects of agmatine are presented and discussed, as well as, the mechanisms of action related to these effects. Also, the potential beneficial effects of agmatine for the treatment of other neurological disorders are presented. In particular, we provide evidence to encourage future clinical studies investigating agmatine as a novel antidepressant drug.

Keywords: Agmatine; Antidepressants; Central nervous system; Depression; Neuroprotection.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Agmatine / pharmacology
  • Agmatine / therapeutic use*
  • Animals
  • Antidepressive Agents / pharmacology
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Depression / drug therapy*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / pharmacology
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / therapeutic use*


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Agmatine