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Neurochemical and neuroprotective aspects of phenelzine and its active metabolite B-phenylethylidenehydrazine Open Access


Other title
semicarbazide-sensitive amine oxidase
monoamine oxidase
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
MacKenzie, Erin Margaret
Supervisor and department
Baker, Glen (Psychiatry)
Examining committee member and department
Greenshaw, Andy (Psychiatry)
Mousseau, Darrell (Psychiatry, University of Saskatchewan)
Kerr, Bradley (Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine)
Le Melledo, Jean Michel (Psychiatry)
Department of Psychiatry

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Phenelzine (PLZ) is a monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitor that also inhibits the activity of GABA-transaminase (GABA-T), causing significant and long-lasting increases in brain GABA levels. Inhibition of MAO prior to PLZ administration has been shown to prevent the GABAergic effects of the drug, strongly suggesting that a metabolite of PLZ formed by the action of MAO is responsible for the GABAergic effects. While PLZ has been used clinically for decades for its antidepressant and antipanic effects, it has more recently been shown to be neuroprotective in an animal model of ischemia. The aim of the experiments described in this thesis was to identify the active metabolite of PLZ, and to determine the neurochemical mechanisms by which PLZ and this metabolite exert their neuroprotective effects (with a particular focus on degenerative mechanisms observed in cerebral ischemia and Alzheimer’s disease (AD)). The development of an analytical assay for β-phenylethylidenehydrazine (PEH) was a major breakthrough in this project and permitted the positive identification of this compound as the active metabolite of PLZ. Further experiments demonstrated that PLZ and PEH could be neuroprotective in cerebral ischemia and AD not only by reducing excitotoxicity via increased GABAergic transmission, but also by (a) increasing brain ornithine, which could potentially lead to a decrease in glutamate synthesis and/or a decrease in polyamines (whose metabolism produces toxic aldehydes); (b) inhibiting the activity of human semicarbazide-sensitive amine oxidase (SSAO), an enzyme whose activity is increased in AD producing excessive amounts of the toxic aldehyde formaldehyde (FA); (c) by sequestering FA in vitro, forming a non-reactive hydrazone product. Since PEH appears to mediate or share the neurochemical effects of PLZ, two propargylated analogs of PEH were synthesized and tested for their potential as PEH prodrugs. Surprisingly these analogs were not particularly effective prodrugs in vivo, but they possessed an interesting neurochemical properties on their own (the ability to elevate brain levels of glycine), and warrant further investigation as potential antipsychotic agents. Together, these results suggest that PLZ and its active metabolite, PEH, should be further investigated for their neuroprotective potential in cerebral ischemia and in AD.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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