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Selegiline chemical structure

IUPAC name
CAS number
ATC code


Chemical formula C13H17N
Molecular weight 187.281 g/mol
Elimination half-life 2 hours
Excretion {{{excretion}}}
Pregnancy category C (US)
Legal status prescription only (unscheduled) (US)
Routes of administration Oral, transdermally

Selegiline (l-deprenyl, Eldepryl® or Anipryl® [veterinary]) is a drug used for the treatment of early-stage Parkinson's disease and senile dementia. In normal clinical doses it is a selective MAO-B inhibitor, however in larger doses (>20 mg in a typical adult) it loses its specificity and also inhibits MAO-A. Dietary restrictions are common for MAOI treatments, however, since Selegiline is selective for MAO-B, special dietary restrictions for lower doses have been found to be unnecessary.[1] The drug was researched by Joseph Knoll.


It is sometimes used off-label to treat narcolepsy and as a nootropic, as well as for its purported life-extending effects. It is also reported to positively affect libido, particularly in older males. As of February 28, 2006, Selegiline has also been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat major depression using a transdermal patch (Emsam Patch)[2]. Selegiline is also used (at extremely high dosages relative to humans) in veterinary medicine to treat the symptoms of Cushing's disease and so-called "cognitive dysfunction" in dogs. As of June 26, 2006, a Selegiline transdermal patch is being tested for its effectiveness in treating ADHD (

Mechanism of Action

Selegiline is a selective inhibitor of MAO B which metabolizes dopamine.[3] Used independently, Selegiline exhibits little therapeutic benefit, but when used in combination with levodopa antiparkinsonism effects are enhanced and prolonged.[4]



Desmethylselegiline may have neuroprotective antiapoptotic properties. A large multicenter study suggests a decrease of in the disease progression of parkinsonism but may have reflected other symptomatic response.[5]


Selegiline is partly metabolized to l-methamphetamine, a stereoisomer of methamphetamine in vivo.[6] This stereoisomer is not considered psychoactive and has little abuse potential. The stimulatory effect on locomotor activity and dopamine synthesis may be contributed to by the action of l-methamphetamine.

Due to this metabolite selegiline can cause false positives for amphetamine/methamphetamine on drug tests.

Legal Issues

Possibly due to the structural similarity to illegal stimulants, selegiline has been classified as a controlled substance in Japan and thus can only be obtained with a prescription or special government license.


February 28, 2006 - The Food and Drug Administration approved Emsam (selegiline), the first skin (transdermal) patch for use in treating major depression. The once a day patch works by delivering selegiline, a monoamine oxidase inhibitor or MAOI, through the skin and into the bloodstream. At its lowest strength, Emsam can be used without the dietary restrictions that are needed for all oral MAO inhibitors that are approved for treating major depression. It comes in three sizes that deliver 6, 9, or 12 mg of selegiline per 24 hours. The patch is a matrix containing three layers consisting of a backing, and adhesive drug layer, and a release liner that is placed against the skin. EMSAM was developed by Somerset Pharmaceuticals, Inc. In December 2004, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Somerset entered into an agreement that provides Bristol-Myers Squibb with distribution rights to market EMSAM after approval in the United States.



  1. Amsterdam, J. D. (2003-02). A double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of the safety and efficacy of selegiline transdermal system without dietary restrictions in patients with major depressive disorder. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 64 (2): 208-214.
  3. Katzung, Bertram G. Basic & Clinical Pharmacology. 9th Edition. 2004. page 453. Lange Medical Books - McGraw Hill Publishers.
  4. Katzung. Page 453
  5. Katzung, Bertram G. Basic & Clinical Pharmacology. 9th Edition. 2004. page 453. Lange Medical Books - McGraw Hill Publishers.

External links

Antidepressants (ATC N06A) edit
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI) Harmaline, Iproclozide, Iproniazid, Isocarboxazid, Nialamide, Phenelzine, Selegiline, Toloxatone, Tranylcypromine
Reversible inhibitor of monoamine oxidase A (RIMA) Brofaromine, Moclobemide
Dopamine reuptake inhibitor (DARI) Amineptine, Phenmetrazine, Vanoxerine, Modafinil
Norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitors Bupropion
Norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (NRI) or (NARI) Atomoxetine, Maprotiline, Reboxetine, Viloxazine
Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) Duloxetine, Milnacipran, Venlafaxine
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) Alaproclate, Etoperidone, Citalopram, Escitalopram, Fluoxetine, Fluvoxamine, Paroxetine, Sertraline, Zimelidine
Selective serotonin reuptake enhancer (SSRE) Tianeptine
Tricyclic antidepressants (TCA) Amitriptyline, Amoxapine, Butriptyline, Clomipramine, Desipramine, Dibenzepin, Dothiepin, Doxepin, Imipramine, Iprindole, Lofepramine, Melitracen, Nortriptyline, Opipramol, Protriptyline, Trimipramine
Tetracyclic antidepressants Maprotiline, Mianserin, Nefazodone, Trazodone
Noradrenergic and specific serotonergic antidepressant (NaSSA) Mirtazapine
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