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Neurochem Res. 2000 Dec;25(12):1537-46.

Brain net unidirectional uptake of alpha-[14c]methyl-L-tryptophan (alpha-MTrp) and its correlation with regional serotonin synthesis, tryptophan incorporation into proteins, and permeability surface area products of tryptophan and alpha-MTrp.

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  • 1Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada.


The uptake and trapping constants for labeled tryptophan (Trp) via the serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine; 5-HT) metabolic pathway and for the incorporation of Trp into proteins, and alpha-[14C]methyl-L-tryptophan (alpha-MTrp) were measured. Measurements were done in rats treated with either saline or probenecid (200 mg/kg). In addition, the blood-brain barrier (BBB) permeability surface area products for Trp (PS(T)) and alpha-MTrp (PSalpha) were measured in normal rats. The results suggest that, in both groups of rats, there is a highly significant correlation (p < 0.05; Pearson Product Moment Correlation (PPMC) between the brain uptake and trapping constants for alpha-MTrp and those of Trp via the 5-HT metabolic pathway, but there is no significant correlation (p > 0.05; PPMC) between either of these constants and the PS products of either compound. There is also no significant correlation (p > 0.05; PPMC) between the constant for the Trp incorporation into proteins with any of the other parameters. For all parameters, except Trp incorporation into proteins (alpha-MTrp is not incorporated into proteins), there was a highly significant correlation (p < 0.001) between the quantities measured for Trp and alpha-MTrp. The data presented here strongly suggests that the brain uptake and trapping of alpha-MTrp relates to brain 5-HT synthesis, and does not relate to the BBB transport or protein incorporation of Trp. On the basis of these results, as well as those previously reported, we concluded that trapping (unidirectional uptake) of alpha-MTrp can be converted to the 5-HT synthesis rates in the brain. From this also follows that labeled alpha-MTrp is a good tracer for in vivo evaluation of the brain 5-HT synthesis.

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