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1 The metabolism of three oral doses of L‐tryptophan (50, 25 and 10 mg/kg) in healthy young males has been investigated. 2 There was a linear relationship between both peak and area under curve of the total plasma tryptophan concentrations whilst the relationship between these parameters and plasma free tryptophan was hyperbolic. 3 Before the tryptophan load about 85% of plasma tryptophan was bound to albumin. As plasma tryptophan concentrations increased there was a hyperbolic increase in free tryptophan. Scatchard analysis revealed 1.4 binding sites/molecule albumin with a dissociation constant (Kd) of 57.9 microM. Following administration of L‐tryptophan (50 mg/kg) twice daily for 7 days there was no alteration in the number of binding sites but the dissociation constant (Kd) had decreased to 30.9 microM. 4 L‐ Tryptophan (50 mg/kg twice daily for 7 days) markedly increased both basal plasma total and free tryptophan. However following a further load the total tryptophan curve was comparable to that seen after acute administration. The plasma free tryptophan curve was lowered relative to that seen after an acute dose. 5 Increasing the tryptophan dose shortened the plasma half‐life and decreased the volume of distribution and the rate of clearance. Longer term tryptophan administration had no significant effect on plasma half‐life or volume of distribution but did decrease the rate of plasma clearance. 6 The plasma kynurenine concentration increased with increasing tryptophan dose and basal concentrations increased markedly after longer term tryptophan administration. 7 Tryptophan administration either acutely or chronically produced little change in urinary tryptophan or 5‐ hydroxyindole acetic acid excretion. Urinary kynurenine and indole acetic acid excretion increased with increasing doses of tryptophan. 8 Data are discussed in relation to the administration of L‐tryptophan for the treatment of depression. 1980 The British Pharmacological Society

Original publication




Journal article


British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology

Publication Date





603 - 610