Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Food Chem Toxicol. 2010 Mar;48(3):839-45. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2009.12.019. Epub 2009 Dec 28.

beta-Carboline alkaloids in Peganum harmala and inhibition of human monoamine oxidase (MAO).

Author information

  • 1Spanish Council for Scientific Research, CSIC, Instituto de Fermentaciones Industriales, Madrid, Spain.


Peganum harmala L. is a multipurpose medicinal plant increasingly used for psychoactive recreational purposes (Ayahuasca analog). Harmaline, harmine, harmalol, harmol and tetrahydroharmine were identified and quantified as the main beta-carboline alkaloids in P. harmala extracts. Seeds and roots contained the highest levels of alkaloids with low levels in stems and leaves, and absence in flowers. Harmine and harmaline accumulated in dry seeds at 4.3% and 5.6% (w/w), respectively, harmalol at 0.6%, and tetrahydroharmine at 0.1% (w/w). Roots contained harmine and harmol with 2.0% and 1.4% (w/w), respectively. Seed extracts were potent reversible and competitive inhibitors of human monoamine oxidase (MAO-A) with an IC(50) of 27 microg/l whereas root extracts strongly inhibited MAO-A with an IC(50) of 159 microg/l. In contrast, they were poor inhibitors of MAO-B. Inhibition of MAO-A by seed extracts was quantitatively attributed to harmaline and harmine whereas inhibition by root extracts came from harmine with no additional interferences. Stems and leaves extracts were poor inhibitors of MAO. The potent inhibition of MAO-A by seed and root extracts of P. harmala containing beta-carbolines should contribute to the psychopharmacological and toxicological effects of this plant and could be the basis for its purported antidepressant actions.

Copyright (c) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk