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Pediatr Neurol. 2003 Jan;28(1):20-3.

Serotonin-related tryptophan in children with insulin-dependent diabetes.

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Laboratory of Neurochemistry, Pediatric Hospital, Mexico City, Mexico.


In the course of the present research in school children with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, we observed that the free fraction of L-tryptophan, the free fraction of L-tryptophan/total L-tryptophan, and the free fraction of L-tryptophan/neutral amino acids ratios, are significantly reduced. The decrease of free fraction of L-tryptophan in plasma with a concomitant decrease of the free fraction of L-tryptophan/neutral amino acids ratio suggest a decrease in the transport of the precursor amino acid to the brain and in the serotonin synthesis rate, similar to that observed in diabetic animals. This finding may be of relevance in the pathophysiology and in the clinical picture, which could be related to an alteration of serotonin metabolism and neurotransmission in the brain and may be possibly related to neuropsychiatric disorders in diabetic school children. Thus we propose that the free fraction of L-tryptophan and the free fraction of L-tryptophan/neutral amino acids ratios may be clinically useful as indicators of brain serotonergic activity in these patients. In our laboratory, we are currently obtaining additional data on the functional role of the brain serotonergic system in humans to further support the relevance of our results.

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