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Int J Tryptophan Res. 2009;2:23-36. Epub 2009 Jan 14.

Assessment of the Potential Role of Tryptophan as the Precursor of Serotonin and Melatonin for the Aged Sleep-wake Cycle and Immune Function: Streptopelia Risoria as a Model.

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Department of Physiology (Neuroimmunophysiology Research Group), Faculty of Science, University of Extremadura, Badajoz, Spain.


In the present review we summarize the relationship between the amino acid, tryptophan, the neurotransmitter, serotonin, and the indole, melatonin, with the rhythms of sleep/wake and the immune response along with the possible connections between the alterations in these rhythms due to aging and the so-called "serotonin and melatonin deficiency state." The decrease associated with aging of the brain and circulating levels of serotonin and melatonin seemingly contributes to the alterations of both the sleep/wake cycle and the immune response that typically accompany old age. The supplemental administration of tryptophan, e.g. the inclusion of tryptophan-enriched food in the diet, might help to remediate these age-related alterations due to its capacity of raise the serotonin and melatonin levels in the brain and blood. Herein, we also summarize a set of studies related to the potential role that tryptophan, and its derived product melatonin, may play in the restoration of the aged circadian rhythms of sleep/wake and immune response, taking the ringdove (Streptopeliarisoria) as a suitable model.


immune function; melatonin; ringdove; serotonin; sleep-wake cycle; tryptophan

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