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Metab Brain Dis. 1993 Mar;8(1):1-44.

Tryptamine: a metabolite of tryptophan implicated in various neuropsychiatric disorders.

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Neuroscience Research Unit, André-Viallet Clinical Research Center, Hôpital St-Luc (University of Montréal), Québec, Canada.


Although early interest in the biomedical relevance of tryptamine has waned in recent years, it is clear from the above discussion that the study of tryptamine is worthy of serious consideration as a factor in neuropsychiatric disorders. The study of [3H]-tryptamine binding sites indicates an adaptive responsiveness characteristic of functional receptors. The question raised by Jones (1982d) on whether tryptamine is acting centrally as a neurotransmitter or a neuromodulator still remains mostly unanswered, although the evidence cited within this review strongly suggests a modulatory role for this neuroactive amine (see also Juorio and Paterson, 1990). The synthesis and degradative pathways of tryptamine, as well as the intricate neurochemical and behavioral consequences of altering these pathways, are now more fully understood. It is not yet clear what the role of tryptamine is under normal physiological [homeostatic] conditions, however, its role during pathological conditions such as mental and physical stress, hepatic dysfunction and other disorders of metabolism (i.e. electrolyte imbalance, increased precursor availability, enzyme induction or alterations in enzyme co-factor availability) may be quite subtle, perhaps accounting for various sequelae hitherto considered idiopathic. The evidence for a primary role for tryptamine in the etiology of mental or neurological diseases is still relatively poor, although the observations that endogenous concentrations of tryptamine are particularly susceptible to pharmacological as well as physiological manipulations serve to reinforce the proposition that this indoleamine is not simply a metabolic accident but rather a neuroactive compound in its own right. Finally, one might wonder what proportion of the data attributed to modifications of 5-HT metabolism might, in fact, involve unrecognized changes in the concentrations of other neuroactive metabolites of tryptophan such as tryptamine.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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