Inhibition of MAO-A and stimulation of behavioural activities in mice by the inactive prodrug form of the anti-influenza agent oseltamivir

Miki Hiasa, Yumiko Isoda, Yasushi Kishimoto, Kenta Saitoh, Yasuaki Kimura, Motomu Kanai, Masakatsu Shibasaki, Dai Hatakeyama, Yutaka Kirino, Takashi Kuzuhara

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20 Citations (Scopus)


Background and Purpose Oseltamivir is the most widely prescribed anti-influenza medication. However, in rare instances, it has been reported to stimulate behavioural activities in adolescents. The goal of this study was to determine the molecular mechanism responsible for these behavioural activities. Experimental Approach We performed an in vitro assay of MAO-A, the enzyme responsible for neurotransmitter degradation, using either the active form - oseltamivir carboxylate (OC) or the inactive prodrug - oseltamivir ethyl ester (OEE). We also analysed the docking of MAO-A with OEE or OC in silico. Mouse behaviours after OEE or OC administration were monitored using automated video and computer analysis. Key Results OEE, but not OC, competitively and selectively inhibited human MAO-A. The estimated Ki value was comparable with the Km values of native substrates of MAO-A. Docking simulations in silico based on the tertiary structure of MAO-A suggested that OEE could fit into the inner pocket of the enzyme. Behavioural monitoring using automated video analysis further revealed that OEE, not OC, significantly enhanced spontaneous behavioural activities in mice, such as jumping, rearing, sniffing, turning and walking. Conclusions and Implications Our multilevel analyses suggested OEE to be the cause of the side effects associated with oseltamivir and revealed the molecular mechanism underlying the stimulated behaviours induced by oseltamivir in some circumstances.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-129
Number of pages15
JournalBritish Journal of Pharmacology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • monoamine oxidase
  • oseltamivir
  • prodrug
  • stimulated behaviour

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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