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Int J Tryptophan Res. 2010;3:35-47.

Specificity of the Acute Tryptophan and Tyrosine Plus Phenylalanine Depletion and Loading Tests Part II: Normalisation of the Tryptophan and the Tyrosine Plus Phenylalanine to Competing Amino Acid Ratios in a New Control Formulation.

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University of Wales Institute Cardiff (UWIC), Wales, UK.


Current formulations for acute tryptophan (Trp) or tyrosine (Tyr) plus phenylalanine (Phe) depletion and loading cause undesirable decreases in ratios of Trp or Tyr + Phe to competing amino acids (CAA), thus undermining the specificities of these tests. Branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) cause these unintended decreases, and lowering their content in a new balanced control formulation in the present study led to normalization of all ratios. Four groups (n = 12 each) of adults each received one of four 50 g control formulations, with 0% (traditional), 20%, 30%, or 40% less of the BCAA. The free and total [Trp]/[CAA] and [Phe + Tyr]/[BCAA + Trp] ratios all decreased significantly during the first 5 h following the traditional formulation, but were fully normalized by the formulation containing 40% less of the BCAA. We recommend the latter as a balanced control formulation and propose adjustments in the depletion and loading formulations to enhance their specificities for 5-HT and the catecholamines.


acute tryptophan depletion and loading; acute tyrosine depletion test; amino acid formulations; branched-chain amino acids; catecholamines; competing amino acids; dopamine; isoleucine; leucine; noradrenaline; phenylalanine; tryptophan; tyrosine; valine

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