Molecular Diversity

, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 219–243 | Cite as

Selective MAO-B inhibitors: a lesson from natural products

  • Simone Carradori
  • Melissa D’Ascenzio
  • Paola Chimenti
  • Daniela Secci
  • Adriana Bolasco
Short Review


Monoamine oxidases (MAOs) are mitochondrial bound enzymes, which catalyze the oxidative deamination of monoamine neurotransmitters. Inside the brain, MAOs are present in two isoforms: MAO-A and MAO-B. The activity of MAO-B is generally higher in patients affected by neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Therefore, the search for potent and selective MAO-B inhibitors is still a challenge for medicinal chemists. Nature has always been a source of inspiration for the discovery of new lead compounds. Moreover, natural medicine is a major component in all traditional medicine systems. In this review, we present the latest discoveries in the search for selective MAO-B inhibitors from natural sources. For clarity, compounds have been classified on the basis of structural analogy or source: flavonoids, xanthones, tannins, proanthocyanidins, iridoid glucosides, curcumin, alkaloids, cannabinoids, and natural sources extracts. MAO inhibition values reported in the text are not always consistent due to the high variability of MAO sources (bovine, pig, rat brain or liver, and human) and to the heterogeneity of the experimental protocols used.


Alzheimer’s disease Depression MAO inhibitor  Natural products Neuroprotection  Parkinson’s disease 













Alzheimer’s disease




Asparagus racemosus




Blood–brain barrier




Bovine monoamine oxidase




Chloroform extract


Cannabinoid receptor type 1


Calculated partition coefficient


Central nervous system






3,4-Dihydroxyphenyl acetic acid


Epigallocatechine gallate


Forced swimming test

\(\hbox {hA}_{\mathrm{2A}}\)

Human adenosine 2A


Hexane extract


Hypericum perforatum methanol extract


High-performance liquid chromatography


High-resolution mass spectrometry

\(\hbox {IC}_{50}\)

Half maximal inhibitory concentration



IFN-\(\upgamma \)

Interferon \(\upgamma \)


Dissociation constant




Inhibition constant


Michaelis constant


Maximal rate of inactivation

\(\hbox {LD}_{50}\)

Half lethal dose


Light-emitting diode


Monoamine oxidase




Methanol extract

\(\upmu \)M



Micellar electrokinetic chromatography


Mitochondrial membrane potential

\(\hbox {MPP}^{+}\)



Mitochondrial permeability transition






Not determined






Nuclear magnetic resonance


Phosphate buffer system


Prostatic cancer cells


Parkinson’s disease



p\(\hbox {IC}_{50}\)

\(-\)log \(\hbox {IC}_{50}\)


Pig brain monoamine oxidase


Proanthocyanidin-rich fraction




1-(4-Guanidinobutoxy)-6-hydroxy-1,2,3,4-tetrahydro-\(\upbeta \)-carboline


Rat monoamine oxidase


Supercritical fluid extraction






Immobility time in tail suspension test


Maximum reaction rate


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Simone Carradori
    • 1
  • Melissa D’Ascenzio
    • 1
  • Paola Chimenti
    • 1
  • Daniela Secci
    • 1
  • Adriana Bolasco
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Drug Chemistry and TechnologiesSapienza University of RomeRomeItaly

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