Serotonin a la carte: Supplementation with the serotonin precursor 5-hydroxytryptophan

Mood Disorders Center, Portland VA Medical Center, Portland, OR 97239, USA.
Pharmacology [?] Therapeutics (Impact Factor: 7.75). 04/2006; 109(3):325-38. DOI: 10.1016/j.pharmthera.2005.06.004
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT This paper reviews the preclinical and clinical evidence regarding the use of the dietary supplement 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) for the treatment of depression. In the absence of supplementation with exogenous 5-HTP, the amount of endogenous 5-HTP available for serotonin synthesis depends on the availability of tryptophan and on the activity of various enzymes, especially tryptophan hydroxylase, indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase, and tryptophan 2,3-dioxygenase (TDO). Factors affecting each of these are reviewed. The amount of 5-HTP reaching the central nervous system (CNS) is affected by the extent to which 5-HTP is converted to serotonin in the periphery. This conversion is controlled by the enzyme amino acid decarboxylase, which, in the periphery, can be blocked by peripheral decarboxylase inhibitors (PDIs) such as carbidopa. Preclinical and clinical evidence for the efficacy of 5-HTP for depression is reviewed, with emphasis on double-blind, placebo-controlled (DB-PC) trials. Safety issues with 5-HTP are also reviewed, with emphasis on eosinophilia myalgia syndrome (EMS) and serotonin syndrome.

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    • "in the brain, whereas TPH1 is predominantly expressed in the pineal gland (Walther et al. 2003; Abumaria et al. 2008) and in the peripheral tissues (Malek et al. 2005; Turner et al. 2006; Nakamura and Hasegawa 2007). Genetic or epigenetic factors affecting TPH2 gene expression or catalytic properties may alter 5-HT neurotransmission and thereby modify behavioral traits, drug responses, and disease susceptibility. "
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    ABSTRACT: Serotonin (5-HT) is a neurotransmitter involved in many aspects of the neuronal function. The synthesis of 5-HT is initiated by the hydroxylation of tryptophan, catalyzed by tryptophan hydroxylase (TPH). Two isoforms of TPH (TPH1 and TPH2) have been identified, with TPH2 almost exclusively expressed in the brain. Following TPH2 discovery, it was reported that polymorphisms of both gene and non-coding regions are associated with a spectrum of psychiatric disorders. Thus, insights into the mechanisms that specifically regulate TPH2 expression and its modulation by exogenous stimuli may represent a new therapeutic approach to modify serotonergic neurotransmission. To this aim, a CNS-originated cell line expressing TPH2 endogenously represents a valid model system. In this study, we report that TPH2 transcript and protein are modulated by neuronal differentiation in the cell line A1 mes-c-myc (A1). Moreover, we show luciferase activity driven by the human TPH2 promoter region and demonstrate that upon mutation of the NRSF/REST responsive element, the promoter activity strongly increases with cell differentiation. Our data suggest that A1 cells could represent a model system, allowing an insight into the mechanisms of regulation of TPH2 and to identify novel therapeutic targets in the development of drugs for the management of psychiatric disorders.
    Journal of Neurochemistry 12/2012; 123(6):963-970. DOI:10.1111/jnc.12004 · 4.24 Impact Factor
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    • "5HTP is the immediate 5HT precursor. It readily crosses the placental barrier, and is only found in the serotonin synthesis pathway [25]. The administration of 5HTP allowed us to elude the rate-limiting step in the synthesis of serotonin and to mimic the effect of increased serotonin synthesis in one group of animals . "
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    ABSTRACT: Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5HT) is a biologically active amine that regulates the development of 5HT neurons and target tissues during neurogenesis, while later it assumes the function of a neurotransmitter. Serotonin mediates many essential behaviors common to all mammals, and is held responsible for anxiety-like behavior and cognitive rigidity. Proper serotonin levels, controlled through 5HT synthesis and metabolism, are crucial for normal brain development. In this study we investigated anxiety-like behavior and cognitive flexibility in adult animals after exposing their developing brains to increased 5HT concentrations. Wistar rats were treated subcutaneously from gestational day 12 to post-natal day 21 with the immediate 5HT precursor 5-hydroxytryptophan (5HTP, 25mg/kg), a non-selective MAO inhibitor tranylcypromine (TCP, 2mg/kg), or saline. After reaching adulthood, animals were tested for anxiety-like behavior (exploratory behavior, thigmotactic behavior, social contact, and reaction to stressful stimulus) and cognitive flexibility (ability for reversal learning). Results of the behavioral studies corresponded with our previous neurochemical findings. Treatment with 5HTP, which has induced mild reduction in cortical 5HT concentrations, caused reduction in only one aspect of anxiety-like behavior (increased exploratory activity). Treatment with TCP, which lead to drastic reduction in 5HT concentration/function, resulted in a highly anxiolytic phenotype (reduced thigmotaxis, reaction to stress, and social anxiety) with improved cognitive flexibility. Although further neurochemical, anatomical and gene-expression studies are needed to elucidate the mechanisms underlying the observed behavior, we hope that our results will contribute to the understanding of the role of serotonin in anxiety-like behavior and cognitive rigidity.
    Behavioural brain research 02/2012; 230(1):175-81. DOI:10.1016/j.bbr.2012.02.001 · 3.39 Impact Factor
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    • "5-HTP is commercially available and has been used clinically for a number of conditions for over 30 yr. Furthermore, it can be easily administered and is well tolerated (Turner et al. 2006). "
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    ABSTRACT: Although phenylketonuria (PKU) is the most common genetic cause of mental retardation, the cellular mechanisms underlying impaired brain function are still unclear. Using PAHenu2 mice (ENU2), the genetic mouse model of PKU, we previously demonstrated that high phenylalanine levels interfere with brain tryptophan hydroxylase activity by reducing the availability of serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT), crucial for maturation of neuronal connectivity in the prefrontal cortex (PFC), around the third postnatal week, a critical period for cortical maturation. 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), the product of tryptophan hydroxylation, is known to be a better treatment to increase brain 5-HT levels. In this study we investigated the role of 5-HT during the early postnatal period in cognitive disturbances and in cortical dendritic alterations of PKU subjects by restoring temporarily (postnatal days 14-21) physiological brain levels of 5-HT in ENU2 through 5-HTP treatment. In adult ENU2 mice early 5-HTP treatment reverses cognitive deficits in spatial and object recognition tests accompanied by an increase in spine maturation of pyramidal neurons in layer V of the prelimbic/infralimbic area of the PFC, although locomotor deficits are not recovered by treatment. Taken together, our results support the hypothesis that mental retardation in PKU depends on reduced availability of brain 5-HT during critical developmental periods that interferes with cortical maturation and point to 5-HTP supplementation as a highly promising additional tool to heal PKU patients.
    The International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology 11/2010; 14(4):479-89. DOI:10.1017/S1461145710001288 · 5.26 Impact Factor
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