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Serum Levels of Tryptophan, 5-Hydroxytryptophan and Serotonin in Patients Affected with Different Forms of Amenorrhea

Author(s): S. Comai | A. Bertazzo | N. Carretti | A. Podfigurna-Stopa | S. Luisi | C.V.L. Costa

Journal: International Journal of Tryptophan Research
ISSN 1178-6469

Volume: 2010;
Issue: 3;
Start page: 69;
Date: 2010;
Original page

Tryptophan (Trp) is present in the serum, partly bound to albumine and in the free form. The unbound portion of circulating tryptophan has the property of crossing the hematoencephalic barrier and being converted within the brain into serotonin (5-HT) through the enzymatic processes of hydroxylation and decarboxylation. The serotoninergic system plays an important role in neuroendocrine control of reproductive hormone secretion, and in particular, it may influence GnRH pulsatility, a function essential for reproductive processes. In this study, we analysed serum levels of tryptophan, serotonin and 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) in women with three different forms of amenorrhea: 16 patients were diagnosed with anorexia nervosa, 60 patients with functional hypothalamic amenorrhea, and 14 patients with hyperprolactinemia. Data were compared with those of a group of 25 healthy women. Serum Trp levels were significantly (P ≤ 0.05) lower in the anorexic (11.64 ± 0.53 µg/ml, mean ± S.E.) than in the control (12.98 ± 0.37 µg/ml) groups. In addition, in the anorexic group a statistical dispersion of Trp values was shown indicating a bimodal data distribution suggesting the existence of two different subgroups of patients. Regarding 5-HTP, an increase of its serum level was observed in all the groups with amenorrhea with the highest value in hyperprolactinemic patients. On the contrary, no statistical differences in serum 5-HT levels among the four analyzed groups were observed. This study shows that women affected by various forms of amenorrhea present an altered metabolism of tryptophan via serotonin and, in particular, markedly high differences are observed between the two subgroups of anorexic patients.
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Tango Jona
Tangokurs Rapperswil-Jona