Cerebral MAO Activity Is Not Altered by a Novel Herbal Antidepressant Treatment

Ravid Doron*, Ziv Versano, Or Burstein, Motty Franko, Alon Shamir, Roni Toledano, Assaf Handelsman, Moshe Rehavi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Inhibition of monoamine oxidase (MAO)-A/B can ameliorate depressive- and anxiety-related symptoms via increase of monoamine extracellular levels. However, such inhibition can also instigate hypertensive response following exposure to dietary tyramine (i.e., “the cheese effect”). Novel herbal treatment (NHT) is an herbal formula that has been demonstrated to reduce depressive- and anxiety-like symptoms in pre-clinical studies. The aim of the current study was to examine whether the therapeutic potential of NHT is underlain by inhibition of MAO-A/B and whether NHT poses a risk for tyramine hyper-potentiation. Unpredictable chronic mild stress (UCMS)–exposed mice and naïve mice were treated for 3 weeks with NHT (30 mg/kg; i.p.), the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) escitalopram (15 mg/kg; i.p.), or saline. Subsequently, MAO-A/B activities in the hypothalamus, striatum, and prefrontal cortex (PFC) were assessed. Exposure to UCMS led to significant increases in both MAO-A and MAO-B activities in the hypothalamus (p < 0.001) and in the PFC (p < 0.01 for MAO-A; p < 0.001 for MAO-B). Neither NHT nor escitalopram had any notable effects. Treatment with NHT was supported as safe in terms of risk for inducing a hypertensive response. The antidepressant- and anxiolytic-like effects of NHT are mediated via pathways other than MAO-A/B inhibition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)371-379
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Molecular Neuroscience
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2019


FundersFunder number


    • Depression
    • Escitalopram
    • Monoamine oxidase A/B (MAO-A/B)
    • Novel herbal treatment (NHT)
    • Unpredictable chronic mild stress (UCMS)


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