Analysis of monoamine oxidase (MAO) enzymatic activity by high-performance liquid chromatography-diode array detection combined with an assay of oxidation with a peroxidase and its application to MAO inhibitors from foods and plants

J Chromatogr B Analyt Technol Biomed Life Sci. 2018 Jan 15;1073:136-144. doi: 10.1016/j.jchromb.2017.12.004. Epub 2017 Dec 6.


Monoamine oxidase (MAO) enzymes catalyze the oxidative deamination of biogenic amines and neurotransmitters and produce ammonia, aldehydes, and hydrogen peroxide which is involved in oxidative processes. Inhibitors of MAO-A and -B isozymes are useful as antidepressants and neuroprotectants. The assays of MAO usually measure amine oxidation products or hydrogen peroxide by spectrophotometric techniques. Those assays are often compromised by interfering compounds resulting in poor results. This research describes a new method that combines in the same assay the oxidative deamination of kynuramine to 4-hydroxyquinoline analyzed by HPLC-DAD with the oxidation of tetramethylbenzidine (TMB) (or Amplex Rex) by horseradish peroxidase (HRP) in presence of hydrogen peroxide. The new method was applied to study the inhibition of human MAO-A and -B by bioactive compounds including β-carboline alkaloids and flavonoids occurring in foods and plants. As determined by HPLC-DAD, β-carbolines, methylene blue, kaempferol and clorgyline inhibited MAO-A and methylene blue, 5-nitroindazole, norharman and deprenyl inhibited MAO-B, and all of them inhibited the oxidation of TMB in the same extent. The flavonoids catechin and cyanidin were not inhibitors of MAO by HPLC-DAD but highly inhibited the oxidation of TMB (or Amplex Red) by peroxidase whereas quercetin and resveratrol were moderate inhibitors of MAO-A by HPLC-DAD, but inhibited the peroxidase assay in a higher level. For some phenolic compounds, using the peroxidase-coupled assay to measure MAO activity led to mistaken results. The new method permits to discern between true inhibitors of MAO from those that are antioxidants and which interfere with peroxidase assays but do not inhibit MAO. For true inhibitors of MAO, inhibition as determined by HPLC-DAD correlated well with inhibition of the oxidation of TMB and this approach can be used to assess the in vitro antioxidant activity (less hydrogen peroxide production) resulting from MAO inhibition.

Keywords: Antioxidants; Flavonoids; HPLC-DAD analysis; MAO inhibitors; Monoamine oxidase (MAO); Peroxidase; β-carbolines.

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Carbolines
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid / methods*
  • Flavonoids
  • Humans
  • Kynuramine / analysis
  • Kynuramine / metabolism
  • Monoamine Oxidase / analysis*
  • Monoamine Oxidase / metabolism*
  • Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors / metabolism*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Peroxidase / metabolism*
  • Plant Extracts / analysis
  • Plant Extracts / metabolism


  • Antioxidants
  • Carbolines
  • Flavonoids
  • Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors
  • Plant Extracts
  • Kynuramine
  • Peroxidase
  • Monoamine Oxidase