Playing a pivotal role in the metabolism of neurotransmitters in the central nervous system, the mitochondrial enzymes monoamine oxidases A and B (MAO A and B) have been for long studied as drug targets for neurodegenerative and neurological diseases. MAO inhibitors (MAOIs) are clinically used to treat Parkinsons disease and depression by blocking the degradation of neuroactive catecholamines and providing a symptomatic relief in the patients. More recent is the idea that the neuroprotective effect of MAOIs may result from the prevention of oxidative stress produced by the MAO reaction rather than being simply related to the inhibition of neurotransmitters degradation. Tranylcypromine and phenelzine are among the first developed MAOI drugs and have been used for years to treat depression. Their usage is now limited to cases of refractory depression because of their negative side effects, which are due to both the lack of MAO A/MAO B selectivity and the inhibition of other enzymes such as the drug-metabolizing cytochromes P450. Although the multi-target action of these MAOIs determines negative implications, the most newly developed compounds have improved properties not only for their specificity relatively to MAO A/MAO B selectivity but also because they function through multiple mechanisms that produce beneficial effects. In particular, safinamide, a MAO B selective inhibitor in clinical trials for Parkinsons disease, is neuroprotective by blocking the voltage-dependent Na+ and Ca2+ channels and the Ca2 glutamate release processes. Rasagiline is a drug used in combination with L-dopa in the treatment of parkinsonian patients and the metabolic products of its degradation exert neuroprotective effects. Moreover, rasagiline scaffold is used to design analogs by addition of pharmacophores that act on other neurological targets. This multi-target approach may prove successful in order to find new and more effective therapies for the complexity of neurodegenerative diseases.
Keywords: Monoamine oxidase, flavin, neuroprotection, parkinson's disease, depression, metabolism of neurotransmitters, mitochondrialenzymes monoamine oxidases, drug-metabolizing cytochromes P450, Tranylcypromine, neurological targets, neurodegenerativediseases, central nervoussystem (CNS), tuberculosis patients, monoamine oxidase inhibition, pyridoxal phosphate (PLP)