Abnormal pregnancy outcome associated with high-dose maternal tranylcypromine therapy: Case report and literature review

Reprod Toxicol. 2017 Apr:69:146-149. doi: 10.1016/j.reprotox.2017.02.012. Epub 2017 Feb 22.


Background: Tranylcypromine is a non-selective inhibitor of monamine oxidase which also inhibits the reuptake of norepinephrine. Spontaneous hypertensive reactions to the drug have been reported. In sheep tranylcypromine has been shown to cause a dose-dependent reduction in uterine blood flow. A similar effect in a pregnant woman might induce constriction of the uterine arteries and temporary fetal hypoxia.

Cases: MotherSafe is a state-based Teratogen Information service and currently provides counselling to around 22,000 consumers and healthcare professionals annually regarding exposures during pregnancy and breastfeeding We report on the outcome of 2 pregnancies in a patient treated with high dose tranylcypromine as well as pimozide, diazepam and alprazolam. The first pregnancy resulted in fetal death and autopsy revealed facial dysmorphism with ocular hypertelorism, cardiac defect and placental infarcts. The second pregnancy continued to term but the baby had similar dysmorphic features as well as an atrio-ventricular septal defect and craniosynostosis.

Conclusions: Due to their unpredictable interactions with many drugs and foods, MAO inhibitors such as tranylcypromine are not commonly used to treat depression and reports of use in pregnancy are rare. We report the outcome of 2 pregnancies with exposure to high doses of tranylcypromine resulting in children with a similar pattern of malformations. The aetiology is unknown but may relate to the vasoactive properties of the drug in above-therapeutic doses.

Keywords: Fetal abnormalities; High-dose; Maternal depression; Pregnancy outcome; Tranylcypromine.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abnormalities, Multiple / chemically induced*
  • Adult
  • Antidepressive Agents / adverse effects*
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Craniofacial Abnormalities / chemically induced*
  • Depression / drug therapy
  • Female
  • Fetal Death / etiology
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / chemically induced*
  • Humans
  • Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors / adverse effects*
  • Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Teratogens*
  • Tranylcypromine / adverse effects*
  • Tranylcypromine / therapeutic use


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors
  • Teratogens
  • Tranylcypromine