Monoamine oxidase (MAO) in lung and liver is important in the degradation of circulating 5-hydroxytryptamine. These sites of MAO activity have been investigated histochemically in the human fetus of 12 to 18 weeks gestation. Enzyme activity could be demonstrated in the liver by both tryptamine and adrenaline oxidation. In the lung, MAO activity was present only when adrenaline was used to substrate. It may be, therefore, that in the premature baby the capacity of MAO to metabolize 5-hydroxytryptamine is not fully developed, which could lead to deleterious effects on pulmonary function.
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