Efficacy and safety of selegiline across different psychiatric disorders: A systematic review and meta-analysis of oral and transdermal formulations

Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2023 Jul;72:60-78. doi: 10.1016/j.euroneuro.2023.03.012. Epub 2023 Apr 21.


Selegiline is an irreversible, selective type-B monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) approved for Parkison's disease-oral and major depressive disorder-transdermal formulation) resulting in non-selective MAOI activity at oral doses≥20 mg/day. The present systematic review and meta-analysis appraises the evidence of different formulations/dosages of selegiline across different psychiatric conditions. We inquired PubMed/MEDLINE/Cochrane-Central/WHO-ICTRP/Clarivate-WebOfScience and the Chinese-Electronic-Journal Database from inception to 10/26/2022 for selegiline trials involving psychiatric patients. Random-effects meta-analyses assessed heterogeneity, publication/risk biases, and confidence in the evidence, followed by sensitivity, subgroup, and meta-regression analyses. Co-primary outcomes were: changes in symptom score (standardized mean difference=SMD) and author-defined response (risk ratios=RRs). RRs of adverse events and all-cause discontinuation were secondary and acceptability outcomes, respectively. Systematic-review included 42 studies; meta-analysis, 23. Selegiline outperformed placebo in depressive symptom reduction (SMD=-0.96, 95%C.I.=-1.78, -0.14, k = 10, n = 1,308), depression (RR=1.61, 95%C.I.=1.20, 2.15, k = 9, n = 1,238) and atypical-depression response (RR=2.23, 95%C.I.=1.35, 3.68, k = 3, n = 136). Selegiline failed to outperform the placebo in negative (k = 4) or positive symptoms of schizophrenia (k = 4), attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms reduction (k = 2), and smoking abstinence rate (k = 4). Selegiline did not differ from methylphenidate and ADHD scores (k = 2). No significant difference emerged in acceptability, incident diarrhea, headache, dizziness, and nausea RRs, in contrast to xerostomia (RR=1.58, 95%C.I. =1.03, 2.43, k = 6, n = 1,134), insomnia (RR=1.61, 95%C.I.=1.19, 2.17, k = 10, n = 1,768), and application-site reaction for transdermal formulation (RR=1.81, 95%C.I.=1.40, 2.33, k = 6, n = 1,662). Confidence in findings was low/very-low for most outcomes; moderate for depressive symptoms reduction (transdermal). Selegiline proved effective, safe, and well-tolerated for depressive disorders, yet further evidence is warranted about specific psychiatric disorders.

Keywords: Depression; L-deprenyl; Monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI); Schizophrenia; Selegiline; Transdermal patch.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity* / drug therapy
  • Depressive Disorder, Major* / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Methylphenidate* / therapeutic use
  • Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors / adverse effects
  • Selegiline / adverse effects


  • Selegiline
  • Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors
  • Methylphenidate