Biogenic amine

A biogenic amine is a biogenic substance with one or more amine groups. They are basic nitrogenous compounds formed mainly by decarboxylation of amino acids or by amination and transamination of aldehydes and ketones. Biogenic amines are organic bases with low molecular weight and are synthesized by microbial, vegetable and animal metabolisms. In food and beverages they are formed by the enzymes of raw material or are generated by microbial decarboxylation of amino acids.[1]

List of notable biogenic amines


Some prominent examples of biogenic monoamines include:

Monoamine neurotransmitters

Trace amines (endogenous amines that activate the human TAAR1 receptor)


Other biogenic monoamines


Examples of notable biogenic polyamines include:

Physiological importance

There is a distinction between endogenous and exogenous biogenic amines. Endogenous amines are produced in many different tissues (for example: adrenaline in adrenal medulla or histamine in mast cells and liver). The amines are transmitted locally or via the blood system. The exogenous amines are directly absorbed from food in the intestine. Alcohol can increase the absorption rate. Monoamine oxidase (MAO) breaks down biogenic amines and prevents excessive resorption. MAO inhibitors (MAOIs) are also used as medications for the treatment of depression to prevent MAO from breaking down amines important for positive mood.

Importance in food

Biogenic amines can be found in all foods containing proteins or free amino acids and are found in a wide range of food products including fish products, meat products, dairy products, wine, beer, vegetables, fruits, nuts and chocolate. In non-fermented foods the presence of biogenic amines is mostly undesired and can be used as indication for microbial spoilage. In fermented foods, one can expect the presence of many kinds of microorganisms, some of them being capable of producing biogenic amines. Some lactic acid bacteria isolated from commercial bottled yoghurt have been shown to produce biogenic amines. They play an important role as source of nitrogen and precursor for the synthesis of hormones, alkaloids, nucleic acids, proteins, amines and food aroma components. However, food containing high amounts of biogenic amines may have toxicological effects.[1]

Determination of biogenic amines in wines

Biogenic amines are naturally present in grapes or can occur during the vinification and aging processes, essentially due to the microorganism's activity. When present in wines in high amount, biogenic amines may cause not only organoleptic defects but also adverse effects in sensitive human individuals, namely due to the toxicity of histamine, tyramine and putrescine. Even though there are no legal limits for the concentration of biogenic amines in wines, some European countries only recommend maximum limits for histamine. In this sense, biogenic amines in wines have been widely studied. The determination of amines in wines is commonly achieved by liquid chromatography, using derivatization reagents in order to promote its separation and detection. In alternative, other promising methodologies have been developed using capillary electrophoresis or biosensors, revealing lower costs and faster results, without needing a derivatization step. It is still a challenge to develop faster and inexpensive techniques or methodologies to apply in the wine industry.[9]

See also


  1. Santos, M.H.Silla (1996). "Biogenic amines: their importance in foods". International Journal of Food Microbiology. 29 (2–3): 213–231. doi:10.1016/0168-1605(95)00032-1. PMID 8796424.
  2. Broadley KJ (March 2010). "The vascular effects of trace amines and amphetamines". Pharmacol. Ther. 125 (3): 363–375. doi:10.1016/j.pharmthera.2009.11.005. PMID 19948186. Trace amines are metabolized in the mammalian body via monoamine oxidase (MAO; EC (Berry, 2004) (Fig. 2) ... It deaminates primary and secondary amines that are free in the neuronal cytoplasm but not those bound in storage vesicles of the sympathetic neurone ... Similarly, β-PEA would not be deaminated in the gut as it is a selective substrate for MAO-B which is not found in the gut ...
    Brain levels of endogenous trace amines are several hundred-fold below those for the classical neurotransmitters noradrenaline, dopamine and serotonin but their rates of synthesis are equivalent to those of noradrenaline and dopamine and they have a very rapid turnover rate (Berry, 2004). Endogenous extracellular tissue levels of trace amines measured in the brain are in the low nanomolar range. These low concentrations arise because of their very short half-life ...
  3. Miller GM (January 2011). "The emerging role of trace amine-associated receptor 1 in the functional regulation of monoamine transporters and dopaminergic activity". J. Neurochem. 116 (2): 164–176. doi:10.1111/j.1471-4159.2010.07109.x. PMC 3005101. PMID 21073468.
  4. Khan MZ, Nawaz W (October 2016). "The emerging roles of human trace amines and human trace amine-associated receptors (hTAARs) in central nervous system". Biomed. Pharmacother. 83: 439–449. doi:10.1016/j.biopha.2016.07.002. PMID 27424325.
  5. Lindemann L, Hoener MC (May 2005). "A renaissance in trace amines inspired by a novel GPCR family". Trends Pharmacol. Sci. 26 (5): 274–281. doi:10.1016/ PMID 15860375. In addition to the main metabolic pathway, TAs can also be converted by nonspecific N-methyltransferase (NMT) [22] and phenylethanolamine N-methyltransferase (PNMT) [23] to the corresponding secondary amines (e.g. synephrine [14], N-methylphenylethylamine and N-methyltyramine [15]), which display similar activities on TAAR1 (TA1) as their primary amine precursors...Both dopamine and 3-methoxytyramine, which do not undergo further N-methylation, are partial agonists of TAAR1 (TA1). ...
    The dysregulation of TA levels has been linked to several diseases, which highlights the corresponding members of the TAAR family as potential targets for drug development. In this article, we focus on the relevance of TAs and their receptors to nervous system-related disorders, namely schizophrenia and depression; however, TAs have also been linked to other diseases such as migraine, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, substance abuse and eating disorders [7,8,36]. Clinical studies report increased β-PEA plasma levels in patients suffering from acute schizophrenia [37] and elevated urinary excretion of β-PEA in paranoid schizophrenics [38], which supports a role of TAs in schizophrenia. As a result of these studies, β-PEA has been referred to as the body's 'endogenous amphetamine' [39]
  6. Wainscott DB, Little SP, Yin T, Tu Y, Rocco VP, He JX, Nelson DL (January 2007). "Pharmacologic characterization of the cloned human trace amine-associated receptor1 (TAAR1) and evidence for species differences with the rat TAAR1". The Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. 320 (1): 475–85. doi:10.1124/jpet.106.112532. PMID 17038507. S2CID 10829497.
  7. Burchett SA, Hicks TP (August 2006). "The mysterious trace amines: protean neuromodulators of synaptic transmission in mammalian brain". Prog. Neurobiol. 79 (5–6): 223–46. doi:10.1016/j.pneurobio.2006.07.003. PMID 16962229. S2CID 10272684.
  8. Suzzi G, Torriani S (2015). "Editorial: Biogenic amines in foods". Front Microbiol. 6: 472. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2015.00472. PMC 4435245. PMID 26042107.
  9. Vanda, Pereira (17 February 2017). "Analytical methodologies for the determination of biogenic amines in wines: an overview of the recent trends". 2 (1). {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help) This article contains quotations from this source, which is available under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license.
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