Neutral amino acid availability in two major psychiatric disorders

Adelio Lucca, Valentina Lucini, Marco Catalano, Enrico Smeraldi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Lucca, Adelio, Valentina Lucini, Marco Catalano and Enrico Smeraldi: Neutral Amino Acid Availability in Two Major Psychiatric Disorders. Prog. Neuro-Psychopharmacol. & Biol. Psychiat. 1995, 19(4): 615-626. 1. 1. Evidence suggests catecholamines and indoleamines may play a role in the pathogenesis of several psychiatric disorders. These neurotransmitters (i.e. dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin) are synthesized within the human brain from their precursors, the aromatic large neutral amino acids tyrosine and tryptophan. Other large neutral amino acids, namely valine, isoleucine, leucine and phenylalanine affect precursor availability by competing with tryptophan and tyrosine for the transport system across the blood brain barrier. 2. 2. The authors evaluated the brain availability of Ltryptophan and tyrosine in a sample of psychiatric patients with a diagnosis of major depression and schizophrenia. 3. 3. The present results suggest a possible usefulness of Tryptophan/Large Neutral Amino Acids ratio in distinguishing major depression from schizophrenia, while Tyrosine/ Large Neutral Amino Acids ratio shows a very limited usefulness. The absolute need of powerful and accurate statistical analysis to evaluate the power of a biological test clearly stands out from the present study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)615-626
Number of pages12
JournalProgress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1995


  • major depression
  • neurotransmitter
  • neutral amino acids
  • schizophrenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Pharmacology


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