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J Psychopharmacol. 2005 Jul;19(4):385-91.

Heterogeneity of serum tryptophan concentration and availability to the brain in patients with the chronic fatigue syndrome.

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Cardiff & Vale NHS Trust, Biomedical Research Laboratory, Whitchurch Hospital, Cardiff, Wales, UK.


We assessed the serotonin status of patients with the chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Tryptophan (Trp) availability to the brain, expressed as the ratio of concentration of serum Trp to the sum of those of its five competitors (CAA), and other parameters of Trp disposition were compared in 23 patients with the CFS and 42 healthy controls. The serum [free Trp]/[CAA] ratio was 43% higher in CFS patients, due to a 48% higher [free Trp]. [Total Trp] was also significantly higher (by 19%) in CFS patients, and, although the [total Trp]/[CAA] ratio did not differ significantly between the control and patient groups, the difference became significant when the results were co-varied with age and gender. [CAA] was not significantly different between groups, but was significantly lower in females, compared to males, of the CFS patient group. We have established normal ranges for Trp disposition parameters and propose criteria for defining the serotonin-biosynthetic status in humans. We have provisionally identified two subgroups of CFS patients, one with normal serotonin and the other with a high serotonin status. The relevance of our findings to, and their implications for, the pharmacological and other therapies of the chronic fatigue syndrome are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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