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Tobacco smoking is reputed to be the most difficult addiction of all to give up, and nicotine has been noted as the major addictive agent in tobacco smoke. However, research shows that nicotine addiction is due to more than nicotine alone. One hypothesis is that monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibition from non-nicotinic components in, or derived from, tobacco smoke contributes to nicotine addiction. Harman and norharman, have been recognised as major and potent MAO inhibitors in tobacco smoke, but these two inhibitors together comprise perhaps less than 10% of the total MAO A inhibitory activity in cigarette smoke suggesting other unidentified components may make significant contributions to total inhibitory activity. Therefore, we reviewed an index of the chemical components of tobacco and tobacco smoke and identified those known to be MAO inhibitors. Amongst these inhibitors, phenols and phenolic acids with MAO inhibitory activity are commonly reversible and selective MAO A inhibitors, whereas trans,trans-farnesol, 2-methyl-1,4-naphthoquinone (menadione), 1,4-naphthoquinone, scopoletin, and diosmetin with MAO inhibitory activity are reversible and selective MAO B inhibitors. The compound, 1,4-benzoquinone is an irreversible MAO A inhibitor and to the best of our knowledge, this is the first irreversible MAO A inhibitor to be reported in tobacco smoke. MAO inhibitors have been used clinically to treat depression, anxiety, and Parkinson's disease. The MAO inhibitors identified from tobacco and tobacco smoke and summarized in this review, are potential pharmacological candidates to be investigated further. This review will enhance our knowledge of the way tobacco smoke affects MAO activity in smokers and will also be important in helping to understand nicotine addiction. Copyright © 2022 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Sa Weon Hong, Paul Teesdale-Spittle, Rachel Page, Penelope Truman. A review of monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors in tobacco or tobacco smoke. Neurotoxicology. 2022 Dec;93:163-172

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PMID: 36155069

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