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Dr. Fernandez

POST of the Week: MAO Inhibitors and PD

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What are MAO-B inhibitors? How do they work?

Monoamine oxidase type B (MAO-B) are enzymes found predominantly in the brain. Their action is to breakdown dopamine into inactive by-products. Therefore, the enzyme shortens the life span of dopamine in the brain. Under normal circumstances, we have enough dopamine in the brain, and the MAO-B enzymes are actually doing a good thing. They help “clean” and keep the balance and flow of chemicals in the brain. However, in Parkinson’s disease, there is lack of dopamine. Dopamine is not being produced in enough quantities, so the patient with Parkinson’s disease needs every ounce of of this substance.


MAO-B “inhibitors” block the MAO-B enzymes and prevent them from working, so there are less of them breaking down the dopamine. The net result is more dopamine staying longer inside the brain. Examples of selective MAO-B inhibitors are: selegiline (which also comes in orally-disintegrating form) and rasagiline.

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