No detectable effects of acute tryptophan depletion on short-term immune system cytokine levels in healthy adults

Caroline S. Hildebrandt, Katrin Helmbold, Maike Linden, Karl Josef Langen, C. P. Filss, Kevin C. Runions, Richard M. Stewart, Pradeep Rao, Julie K. Moore, Simone Mahfouda, Hugo A.E. Morandini, Janice W.Y. Wong, Lothar Rink, Florian D. Zepf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Objectives: Recent research suggested an influence of diminished central nervous serotonin (5-HT) synthesis on the leptin axis via immunological mechanisms in healthy adult females. However, studies assessing immunological parameters in combination with dietary challenge techniques that impact brain 5-HT synthesis in humans are lacking.  Methods: In the present trial, a pilot analysis was conducted on data obtained in healthy adult humans receiving either different dietary acute tryptophan depletion (ATD) challenge or tryptophan (TRP)-balanced control conditions (BAL) to study the effects of reduced central nervous 5-HT synthesis on serum tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α), interleukin-1β (IL-1β) and IL-6 concentrations. The data of N = 35 healthy adults were analysed who were randomly subjected to one of the following two dietary conditions in a double-blind between-subject approach: (1) The Moja-De ATD challenge (ATD), or (2) TRP-balanced control condition for ATD Moja-De (BAL). Serum concentrations for the assessment of relevant parameters (TNF-α, IL-1β and IL-6) and relevant TRP-related characteristics after the respective challenge procedures were assessed at baseline (T0) and in hourly intervals after administration over a period of 6 h (T1–T6).  Results: The ATD condition did not result in significant changes to cytokine concentrations for the entire study sample, or in male and female subgroups. Depletion of CNS 5-HT via dietary TRP depletion appears to have no statistically significant short-term impact on cytokine concentrations in healthy adults.  Conclusions: Future research on immunological stressors in combination with challenge techniques will be of value in order to further disentangle the complex interplay between brain 5-HT synthesis and immunological pathways.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalThe World Journal of Biological Psychiatry
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Apr 2018


Dive into the research topics of 'No detectable effects of acute tryptophan depletion on short-term immune system cytokine levels in healthy adults'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this