ANDREW FREESE; KENTON J. SCHWARTZ; MATTHEW DURING, M.D.
To the editor: The precursor relationship of plasma or brain tryptophan levels to the bioactive tryptophan metabolite, serotonin, has been well characterized (1). Indeed, based on this relationship, therapeutic interventions for a number of disorders, including insomnia, depression, obesity, hypertension, and aggression, have been established. Because of media coverage, public self-administration of high doses of tryptophan bought at health food stores is common.
Although tryptophan is a precursor for serotonin biosynthesis, the metabolism of tryptophan is more complex, occurring through a branched pathway. Various studies have shown that increased plasma and brain levels of tryptophan not only augment levels of
FREESE A, SCHWARTZ KJ, DURING M. Potential Neurotoxicity of Tryptophan. Ann Intern Med. ;108:312–313. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-108-2-312_2
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 1988;108(2):312-313.
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