Methylene blue analogues with marginal monoamine oxidase inhibition retain antidepressant-like activity
Harvey, Brian H.
Petzer, Jacobus P.
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Methylene blue (MB) possesses diverse medical applications. Among these, MB presents with antidepressant-like effects in animals and has shown promise in clinical trials for the treatment of mood disorders. As an antidepressant, MB may act via various mechanisms which include modulation of the nitric oxide cyclic guanosine monophosphate (NO-cGMP) cascade, enhancement of mitochondrial respiration and antioxidant effects. MB is also, however, a high potency inhibitor of monoamine oxidase (MAO) A, which most likely contributes to its antidepressant effect, but also to its adverse effects profile (e.g., serotonin toxicity). The latter has raised the question whether it is possible to design out the MAO inhibition properties of MB yet retaining its clinically useful attributes. This study explores this idea further by characterizing five newly synthesized low MAO-A active MB analogues and examining their antidepressant-like properties in the acute forced swim test (FST) in rats, with comparison to imipramine and MB. The results show that all five analogues exhibit antidepressant-like properties in the FST without confounding effects on locomotor activity. The magnitude of these effects is comparable to those of imipramine and MB. Moreover, these newly synthesized MB analogues are markedly less potent MAO-A inhibitors (IC50 = 0.518–4.73 μM) than MB (IC50 = 0.07 μM). We postulate that such lower potency MAO-A inhibitors may present with a reduced risk of adverse effects associated with MAO-A inhibition. While low level MAO-A inhibition still may produce an antidepressant effect, we posit that other MB-related mechanisms may underlie their antidepressant effects, thereby representing a novel group of antidepressant compounds
- Faculty of Health Sciences