Eldepryl belongs to a class of medications called monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). Although MAOIs are often used to treat depression, some MAOIs are useful for Parkinson's disease treatment.
A dopamine deficiency (caused by a loss of dopamine-producing cells) in certain parts of the brain may be responsible for many of the symptoms of Parkinson's disease. An enzyme called monoamine oxidase (MAO) breaks down monoamine chemicals, including dopamine. By inhibiting MAO enzymes, Eldepryl helps to increase the amount of dopamine that the brain can use, helping to relieve the symptoms of Parkinson's disease.
There are two types of MAO (type A and B). MAO-B is the main form in the brain and is also found in blood platelets. Although there is some MAO-A in the brain, it is found primarily in the digestive tract. MAO-A is responsible for breaking down dietary tyramine, an amino acid that affects blood pressure. Any medication that inhibits MAO-A stops the body's ability to break down tyramine and can cause a person's tyramine levels to become too high (which can be extremely dangerous). Although Eldepryl is "selective" for MAO-B, it can inhibit MAO-A to some extent (especially at higher doses).
Eldepryl is not approved for use in children, as it has not been thoroughly studied in this age group. This makes sense, as Parkinson's disease is unlikely to occur in children.
On occasion, your healthcare provider may recommend Eldepryl for something other than Parkinson's disease. This is known as an "off-label" use. Off-label Eldepryl uses include treating the following conditions:
- Alzheimer's disease
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)