Neuropharmacology of S-adenosyl-L-methionine

Am J Med. 1987 Nov 20;83(5A):95-103. doi: 10.1016/0002-9343(87)90860-6.


The metabolite S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe), when prepared as the stable p-toluene-sulfonate complex of its sulfate salt and given parenterally in high doses, appears to have mood-elevating effects in depressed adults. The material is remarkably well tolerated when given by injection or intravenous infusion for this purpose, even in elderly or demented patients. Assuming that the toluene sulfonate component is inert, SAMe appears to have central neuropharmacologic effects after systemic injection in high doses. Nevertheless, the functional consequences of these remain unclear and, indeed, the ability of exogenous SAMe to reach the brain, and especially neuronal cytoplasm, is limited. SAMe has small effects on monoamine metabolism and, after injection, appears to have effects on the microviscosity of cell membranes that may be related to stimulation of phospholipid synthesis. The recent introduction of an orally administered form of SAMe for use in the treatment of osteoarthritis promises to stimulate further study of SAMe in disease-associated depression, major depressive disorder, and other neuropsychiatric conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Affect / drug effects*
  • Animals
  • Catecholamines / metabolism
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Depressive Disorder / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Phospholipids / metabolism
  • S-Adenosylmethionine / pharmacokinetics
  • S-Adenosylmethionine / pharmacology*
  • S-Adenosylmethionine / therapeutic use


  • Catecholamines
  • Phospholipids
  • S-Adenosylmethionine