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Life Sci. 1995 Mar 17;56(17):1395-400.

Comparison of the effects of amino acid mixture and placebo on plasma tryptophan to large neutral amino acid ratio.

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Department of Psychiatry, Beth Israel Hospital, Boston, MA 02215, USA.


To assess the possible role of altered central serotonin function in psychiatric disorders, investigators have utilized pharmacological challenge testing with an amino acid mixture to decrease blood tryptophan concentration and, indirectly, brain serotonin levels. The aim of this pilot study was to assess the effectiveness of a modified amino mixture, administered in capsule form, in decreasing plasma tryptophan levels. Studies were conducted in six healthy, medication-free female volunteers. Following double-blind, randomized, cross-over design, subjects received on separate days capsules containing a tryptophan-free amino acid mixture (31.5 grams) or lactose placebo. Over the six hours following amino acid administration, plasma tryptophan concentrations decreased to 21% of baseline values, while the tryptophan/large neutral amino acid ratio decreased to 6% of baseline. Subjects reported minimal symptoms of nausea or other side effects following amino acid administration. The results suggest that the modified amino acid mixture may be useful in assessing behavioral responses to acute tryptophan depletion challenge testing.

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