A Controlled Study of the Antidepressant Efficacy and Side Effects of (—)-Deprenyl: A Selective Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitor

J. J. Mann, S. F. Aarons, P. J. Wilner, J. G. Keilp, J. A. Sweeney, T. Pearlstein, A. J. Frances, J. H. Kocsis, R. P. Brown

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174 Scopus citations


Monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors are effective antidepressants whose use is limited because of unwanted side effects and the possibility of a tyramine-induced hypertensive crisis (cheese reaction). (-)-Deprenyl (the official nonproprietary name for this substance is selegiline), a selective MAO type B inhibitor, may be safer and have fewer side effects, but its antidepressant efficacy is uncertain. A double-blind placebo-controlled study was carried out in depressed outpatients who were treated with (-)-deprenyl in an MAO type B selective dose range and at a higher nonselective dose range. (-)-Deprenyl did not have a statistically significant antidepressant effect after three weeks of treatment at doses of 10 mg/d. However, after six weeks and at higher doses (averaging about 30 mg/d for the second three weeks), (-)-deprenyl was superior to placebo in antidepressant effect with a positive response rate of 50% vs 13.6% and with a 41% reduction in the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale mean score vs 10% in the placebo-treated group. No hypertensive crises were seen. The rate of occurrence of side effects with (-)-deprenyl was no greater than with placebo. It was concluded that (-)-deprenyl is an effective antidepressant in a dose range where it is distinguished by the absence of many of the side effects typical of nonselective MAO inhibitors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-50
Number of pages6
JournalArchives of General Psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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