Background: 2-phenylethylamine (2-PEA) is an organic neurotransmitter which belongs to a
class of biogenic amines that are essential for regulation of cellular development, differentiation and
homeostasis. This class of compounds have been reported to cause oxidative stress to neuronal cells in
the brain, which have a high oxygen consumption rate, elevated iron content and low antioxidant concentration.
2-phenylethylamine can metabolise into hydroxyl radicals which have been found to be a
direct cause of oxidative stress within cells.
Methods: This study has examined the toxicity of 2-phenylethylamine in the yeasts, Saccharomyces
cerevisiae and Candida glabrata by examining growth with glucose or ethanol as sources, in the presence
Results: 2-phenylethylamine was found to be inhibitory to all strains of yeast where respiratory function
was necessary, while growth where glucose was the carbon source was unaffected. Almost all growth
inhibition could be reversed by antioxidants ascorbate and glutathione, indicating oxidative stress was
the likely cause of toxicity through 2-PEA or one of its metabolites.
Conclusion: Yeast studies show that the biogenic amine, 2-phenylethylamine, targets respiratory function
and that the inhibition can be reversed alleviated by the addition of glutathione or ascorbate.