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Phytochem Anal. 2013 Feb;24(2):141-7. doi: 10.1002/pca.2393. Epub 2012 Sep 17.

Coupling of a high-resolution monoamine oxidase-A inhibitor assay and HPLC-SPE-NMR for advanced bioactivity profiling of plant extracts.

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Department of Drug Design and Pharmacology, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.



Depression is a mental disease causing large personal and socio-economic problems, and new improved drugs are therefore needed. Selective monoamine oxidase A (MAO-A) inhibitors are potential anti-depressants, but discovering new MAO-A inhibitors from natural sources by bioassay-guided approaches are a lengthy and time-consuming process. New analytical technologies that allow simultaneously chemical and biological screening of extracts are therefore urgently needed.


In the present study we describe coupling of a photometric microplate-based high-resolution MAO-A inhibitor assay with a hyphenated system consisting of high-performance liquid chromatography, solid-phase extraction and tube transfer nuclear magnetic resonance (HPLC-SPE-ttNMR). The standard compound clorgyline, and an extract of black pepper (Piper nigrum L.), representing a complex plant matrix, were used for proof-of-concept.


The work with clorgyline showed that the microplate-based high-resolution assay produced MAO-A inhibition profiles that easily allowed detection of submicrogram amounts of this selective MAO-A inhibitor. Furthermore, the HPLC-SPE-ttNMR/high-resolution MAO-A inhibition assay platform allowed identification of piperine and two piperine analogues as the main MAO-A inhibitors in the black pepper petroleum ether extract.


The HPLC-SPE-ttNMR/high-resolution MAO-A inhibition assay platform is a powerful tool for fast and efficient identification of new MAO-A inhibitors from complex extracts, and promise future advancement in the search for new anti-depressants from natural sources.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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