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J Neurochem. 1981 Aug;37(2):410-7.

Indolic substances in plasma, cerebrospinal fluid, and frontal cortex of human subjects infused with saline or tryptophan.

Abstract

Psychiatric patients undergoing the psychosurgical operation of stereotactic subcaudate tractotomy were infused intravenously with either saline or L-tryptophan (15 mg/kg/h). Plasma, lumbar cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), ventricular CSF and a specimen of frontal cortex were collected. The relationships of plasma concentrations of substances claimed to influence brain tryptophan concentration (total tryptophan, free tryptophan, large neutral amino acids) with the concentration of tryptophan in the cortex and CSF were investigated. Tryptophan infusion resulted in plasma tryptophan values comparable to those found after oral doses used in treating depression or insomnia, and about sixfold increases of tryptophan in the cerebral cortex. Increased brain 5-hydroxytryptamine synthesis was indicated by significant rises of CSF 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid. The concentration of plasma free tryptophan was a better predictor than plasma total tryptophan of cortex tryptophan concentration. As all correlation coefficients of plasma versus brain or plasma versus ventricular CSF tryptophan concentrations were decreased when allowance was made for differences of concentration of large neutral amino acids, the results suggest that the role of these substances within their physiological range as inhibitors of tryptophan transport to the brain may previously have been overemphasised.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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