L-tryptophan administration and increase in cerebral serotonin levels: Systematic review

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The amino acid tryptophan (2-Amino-3-(lH-indol-3-yl)-propanoic acid; Trp) is a precursor of the neurotransmitter serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine; 5-HT) that performs various brain functions. The administration of Trp is used in experimental studies to manipulate the serotonergic system, however the dose of Trp required to raise brain 5-HT levels is controversial. The aim of this study was to systemically review the effect of the administration of different doses of Trp on cerebral 5-HT levels. Two independent authors conducted a systematic review in the electronic databases. Twenty-five studies were included in the present review. Trp was administered orally, intraperitoneally or subcutaneous in adult animals. The brain 5-HT levels elevated after Trp administration in different intensities, dependent of the brain region evaluated and the time of administration. Further studies are needed to assess the dose-response of Trp administration to brain 5-HT levels.

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