The regional distributions of monoamine oxidase (MAO) types A and B have been identified in human brain in vivo with intravenously injected 11C-labeled suicide enzyme inactivators, clorgyline and L-deprenyl, and positron emission tomography. The rapid brain uptake and retention of radioactivity for both 11C tracers indicated irreversible trapping. The anatomical distribution of 11C paralleled the distribution of MAO A and MAO B in human brain in autopsy material. The corpus striatum, thalamus, and brainstem contained high MAO activity. The magnitudes of uptake of both [11C]clorgyline and L-[11C]deprenyl were markedly reduced in one subject treated with the antidepressant MAO inhibitor phenelzine. A comparison of the brain uptake and retention of the 11C-labeled inactive (D-) and active (L-) enantiomers of deprenyl showed rapid clearance of the inactive enantiomer and retention of the active enantiomer within MAO B-rich brain structures, in agreement with the known stereoselectivity of MAO B for L-deprenyl. Prior treatment with unlabeled L-deprenyl prevented retention of L-[11C]deprenyl. Thus, suicide enzyme inactivators labeled with positron emitters can be used to quantitate the distribution and kinetic characteristics of MAO in human brain structures.

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