Dictionary of Human Evolution and Biology

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Monoamine Oxidase A Deficiency

Lack of MAOA, an enzyme found in the outer membranes of mitochondria and that normally catalyzes reactions that metabolize the neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, and noradrenaline. Owing to one of several mutations, affected individuals process chemicals in wine, cheese, and certain Chinese foods differently, increasing the risk of heart attacks. MAOA deficiency is an X-linked recessive. This controversial syndrome has also been described as ‘borderline mental impairment and abnormal behavior’, with familial aggregations of exhibitionism, voyeurism, and arson. Panic disorder has also been linked to the MAOA polymorphism (aka Brunner syndrome). A second form of the enzyme, MAOB, also exists.

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