Metabolism of 2-phenylethylamine and phenylacetaldehyde by precision-cut guinea pig fresh liver slices

Georgios I. Panoutsopoulos*, Demetrios Kouretas, Elias G. Gounaris, Christine Beedham

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


2-Phenylethylamine is an endogenous constituent of human brain and is implicated in cerebral transmission. It is also found in certain foodstuffs and may cause toxic side-effects in susceptible individuals. Metabolism of 2-phenylethylamine to phenylacetaldehyde is catalyzed by monoamine oxidase and the oxidation of the reactive aldehyde to its acid derivative is catalyzed mainly by aldehyde dehydrogenase and perhaps aldehyde oxidase, with xanthine oxidase having minimal transformation. The present investigation examines the metabolism of 2-phenylethylamine to phenylacetaldehyde in liver slices and compares the relative contribution of aldehyde oxidase, xanthine oxidase and aldehyde dehydrogenase activity in the oxidation of phenylacetaldehyde with precision-cut fresh liver slices in the presence/absence of specific inhibitors of each enzyme. In liver slices, phenylacetaldehyde was rapidly converted to phenylacetic acid. Phenylacetic acid was the main metabolite of 2-phenylethylamine, via the intermediate phenylacetaldehyde. Phenylacetic acid formation was completely inhibited by disulfiram (specific inhibitor of aldehyde dehydrogenase), whereas isovanillin (specific inhibitor of aldehyde oxidase) inhibited acid formation to a lesser extent and allopurinol (specific inhibitor of xanthine oxidase) had little or no effect. Therefore, in liver slices, phenylacetaldehyde is rapidly oxidized by aldehyde dehydrogenase and aldehyde oxidase with little or no contribution from xanthine oxidase.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-118
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2004


  • 2-phenylethylamine
  • Aldehyde dehydrogenase
  • Aldehyde oxidase
  • Allopurinol
  • Disulfiram
  • Isovanillin
  • Liver slices
  • Monoamine oxidase
  • Phenylacetaldehyde
  • Xanthine oxidase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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