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May 1987

L-Deprenyl in Alzheimer's Disease: Preliminary Evidence for Behavioral Change With Monoamine Oxidase B Inhibition

Author Affiliations

From the Laboratories of Clinical Science (Drs Tariot, Sunderland, Newhouse, Mellow, Mueller, and Murphy and Ms Yount) and Cerebral Metabolism (Dr Cohen), National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, Md; the Psychiatry Unit, Monroe Community Hospital, University of Rochester (NY) School of Medicine (Dr Tariot); and the Psychology Department, The George Washington University, Washington, DC (Dr Weingartner).

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1987;44(5):427-433. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1987.01800170041007

• Since monoamine neurotransmitter disturbances exist in some cases of dementia of the Alzheimer's type (DAT), monoamine-enhancing drugs may ameliorate some symptoms of DAT. L-Deprenyl is a monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitor that is generally free of undesired effects. At low doses (10 mg/d) it selectively inhibits MAO-B, an enzyme whose level is elevated in the brains of patients with DAT who are studied post mortem. At higher doses it has more complex effects, including inhibition of MAO-A plus MAO-B. We administered 10 mg/d and 40 mg/d of L-deprenyl to 17 patients with DAT in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, serial treatment. Total Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale scores decreased significantly during 10-mg/d treatment, with decreases in measures of anxiety/depression, tension, and excitement. Approximately one half of the patients' conditions were judged to be improved clinically, with evidence of increased activity and social interaction along with reduced tension and retardation. Similar but smaller changes were observed during 40-mg/d treatment. The behavioral changes were associated with improvement in performance on a complex cognitive task requiring sustained effort. There were minimal physiologic and side effects. The greater effect of low-dose L-deprenyl therapy suggests that it is the inhibition of MAO-B, and not MAO-A, that may be important in the behavioral effects of L-deprenyl administration to patients with DAT.