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Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2010 Jan;20(1):18-24. doi: 10.1016/j.euroneuro.2009.10.003.

CSF neurochemicals during tryptophan depletion in individuals with remitted depression and healthy controls.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, The University of Arizona Health Sciences Center, 1501 N. Campbell Ave. 7-OPC, Tucson, AZ 85724, USA.


The purpose of this study was to examine the differential effects of acute tryptophan (TRP) depletion vs. sham condition on plasma, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biochemical parameters, and mood in the following three subject groups: (1) nine antidepressant-free individuals with remitted depression, (2) eight paroxetine-treated individuals with recently remitted depression, and (3) seven healthy controls. Plasma TRP decreased during TRP depletion and increased during sham condition (p<.01). CSF TRP and 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid were lower during TRP depletion than sham condition (p<.01 each). During TRP depletion, CSF TRP correlated significantly with the plasma sum of large neutral amino acids (SigmaLNAA) (R=-.52, p=.01), but did not significantly correlate with plasma TRP (R=.15, p=.52). The correlation between CSF TRP and ratio of TRP to SigmaLNAA was R=.41 and p=.06 during TRP depletion, and R=-.44 and p=.04 during sham condition. A negative correlation trend was observed between CSF-TRP levels and peak Hamilton Depression Rating Scale scores during TRP depletion in patients recovered from depression (R=-.45, p=.07), but not in healthy controls (R=-.01, p=.98). CSF neuropeptide Y was higher during TRP depletion than sham condition (t=1.75, p<.10). These results illustrate the importance of assessing plasma SigmaLNAA when using the TRP depletion paradigm. The use of a single CSF sampling technique although practical may result in data acquisition limitations.

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