The role of harmane and norharmane in in vitro dopaminergic function

Susan M. Lantz, Elvis Cuevas, Bonnie L. Robinson, Merle G. Paule, Syed F. Ali, Syed Z. Imam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background. Nicotine is one of the most frequently used drugs of abuse. It has long been speculated that in addition to nicotine, tobacco contains other compounds that reinforce addiction. Two promising candidates are the tobacco smoke constituents, harmane and norharmane. Purpose. Our study evaluated the effects of exposure to harmane and norharmane alone and in combination with nicotine on midbrain neuronal cultures. Experimental design. After 24 h exposure, cytotoxicity, dopamine (DA) levels, pTH, TH, MAO-A, and MAO-B expression levels were investigated. Results. At low-to-moderate doses (1 µM-100 µM), harmane or norharmane exposure caused significant dose-dependent decreases in intracellular DA without causing high rate of cell death, mitochondrial dysfunction or generation of ROS. Harmane exposure also resulted in subsequent increase in extracellular DA levels. Conclusion. Along with downregulation of protein expression, notably MAO-B, our data indicate the potential of harmane and norharmane to act in synergy with nicotine in midbrain neurons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number235925
JournalJournal of Drug and Alcohol Research
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Dopamine
  • Harmane
  • Monoamine oxidase
  • Nicotine
  • Norharmane
  • Tyrosine hydroxylase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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