Revisiting the monoamine hypothesis of depression: a new perspective.

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As the incidence of depression increases, depression continues to inflict additional suffering to individuals and societies and better therapies are needed. Based on magnetic resonance spectroscopy and laboratory findings, gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) may be intimately involved in the pathophysiology of depression. The isoelectric point of GABA (pI = 7.3) closely approximates the pH of cerebral spinal fluid (CSF). This may not be a trivial observation as it may explain preliminary spectrophotometric, enzymatic, and HPLC data that monoamine oxidase (MAO) deaminates GABA. Although MAO is known to deaminate substrates such as catecholamines, indoleamines, and long chain aliphatic amines all of which contain a lipophilic moiety, there is very good evidence to predict that a low concentration of a very lipophilic microspecies of GABA is present when GABA pI = pH as in the CSF. Inhibiting deamination of this microspecies of GABA could explain the well-established successful treatment of refractory depression with MAO inhibitors (MAOI) when other antidepressants that target exclusively levels of monoamines fail. If further experimental work can confirm these preliminary findings, physicians may consider revisiting the use of MAOI for the treatment of non-intractable depression because the potential benefits of increasing GABA as well as the monoamines may outweigh the risks associated with MAOI therapy.





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Goldberg, Joel S, Clifton E Bell and David A Pollard (2014). Revisiting the monoamine hypothesis of depression: a new perspective. Perspect Medicin Chem, 6. pp. 1–8. 10.4137/PMC.S11375 Retrieved from

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