Dietary tryptophan depletion in humans using a simplified two amino acid formula - a pilot study
Background: Acute tryptophan depletion (ATD) is a well-established dietary method in translational brain research used to briefly lower central nervous serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT)) synthesis. A simplified two amino acid ATD formula (ATDPHE/LEU) was developed while reducing the overall amount of amino acids (AAs), with the objective of administration especially in children and adolescents in future studies.
Objective: This study investigated tryptophan (TRP) influx rates across the blood-brain barrier (BBB) after dietary ATDPHE/LEU administration relative to the ATD Moja-De protocol that has been established for use in children and adolescents.
Design: Seventy-two healthy adults (50% females) were randomized into four groups and administered ATD Moja-De, its TRP-balanced control condition (BAL), ATDPHE/LEU, or its respective control mixture (BALPHE/LEU) in a counterbalanced, double-blind, between-subjects design. Blood samples were collected at baseline and at hourly intervals for 6 h after AA intake. Questionnaires about mood, taste, and challenge tolerance were completed at fixed time points.
Results: Both challenge mixtures significantly reduced central nervous TRP influx as calculated by Michaelis–Menten kinetics relative to baseline and the respective control conditions with only mild and comparable side effects. A greater decline in TRP influx over the BBB after ATDPHE/LEU administration when compared with ATD Moja-De was detected without group effects for taste, challenge tolerance, and mood. There was unintended initial short increase in plasma TRP concentrations observed after ATDPHE/LEU intake, and a possible redistribution between free and protein-bound TRP triggered by protein synthesis stimulated by the ingested AAs may account for this finding. Moreover, a decline in TRP influx after BALPHE/LEU administration over a 6-h period was observed, and the large amount of PHE in the BALPHE/LEU mixture may be a possible explanation for this particular phenomenon, which could have led to an unexpected increase in displacement of TRP at the BBB in this control condition.
Conclusions: This pilot study provides preliminary evidence for the possibility of lowering TRP influx as calculated by Michaelis–Menten kinetics into the brain by using a simplified ATD protocol in humans. The simplified composition of only two AAs, the lower overall AA amount, and the appropriate tolerance are characteristics of the newly developed ATDPHE/LEU protocol. Future studies focusing on the effects of the ATDPHE/LEU protocol and its respective control condition on CSF 5-HIAA concentrations, as well as neurochemical studies in rodents, are needed to further validate this newly developed AA mixture before definite conclusions about its usability in ATD-related research in humans, its specificity, and additional effects can be made.
Keywords: serotonin; amino acids; dietary tryptophan depletion; influx rate; Michaelis–Menten kinetics; humans
(Published: 16 December 2016)
Citation: Food & Nutrition Research 2016, 60: 29272 - http://dx.doi.org/10.3402/fnr.v60.29272
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