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J Neural Transm Suppl. 1994;41:397-406.

Deamination of aliphatic amines by type B monoamine oxidase and semicarbazide-sensitive amine oxidase; pharmacological implications.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada.


Straight and branched chain aliphatic monoamines, which are not normal tissue constituents, are deaminated selectively by type B monoamine oxidase (MAO-B). They exhibit a high affinity towards the active site of MAO-B and this made them very useful pharmacologically. An anticonvulsant prodrug, Milacemide [2-(N-pentyl)glycinamide] is deaminated by MAO-B and this facilitates a mechanism of delivering glycine into the CNS. We have found that 2-propyl-pentylamine (2-propyl-1-aminopentane) and N-(2-propylpentyl)glycinamide are also converted by MAO-B to valproic acid and glycine both in vitro and in vivo; these compounds, however, cause severe tremor. By attaching a propargylamine group the resultant series of aliphatic propargylamine derivatives have been shown to be very potent selective MAO-B inhibitors. They are chemically quite different from most other MAO-B inhibitors, since they do not possess any aromatic structures. The relatively short chain aliphatic propargylamines, i.e. N-2-pentyl-N-methylpropargylamine and N-2-hexyl-N-methylpropargylamine, are 4 to 5 times more potent and more selective than selegiline (1-deprenyl) with respect to the inhibition of MAO-B in brain following oral administration. Semicarbazide-sensitive amine oxidase (SSAO) catalyzes the deamination of not only longer chain aliphatic amines but also short chain aliphatic amines including methylamine. Formaldehyde is produced from methylamine by SSAO. Increased methylamine deamination may cause cellular damage in some pathological conditions, such as uraemia and diabetes. We have observed that cultured human endothelial cells are damaged by methylamine in the presence of SSAO. Inhibition of the SSAO activity completely protects these cells from the methylamine-SSAO induced damage.

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