The interaction between monoamine oxidase inhibitors and narcotic analgesics in mice

British Journal of Pharmacology
K J Rogers, J A Thornton


1. The administration of either iproniazid or tranylcypromine to mice potentiates the acute toxicity of pethidine, morphine, pentazocine and phenazocine.2. Blood levels of pentazocine in mice pretreated with tranylcypromine do not differ from the levels in animals not receiving the monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitor.3. There is no correlation between changes in brain and liver MAO activity and the increased pethidine toxicity.4. A comparison is made between the change in pethidine toxicity and the changes in the concentration of cerebral noradrenaline, dopamine and 5-hydroxytryptamine following the injection of tranylcypromine.5. It is concluded that the increased toxicity of potent analgesics in combination with MAO inhibitors is not due to a decelerated metabolism of the analgesic drug, but is related to an increased concentration of cerebral 5-hydroxytryptamine. A critical level of this monoamine, in the brain, may be necessary before the drug interaction will take place.


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