Effect of valine on 5-HT-mediated prolactin release in healthy volunteers, and on mood in remitted depressed patients.
Williamson DJ., McTavish SF., Park SB., Cowen PJ.
BACKGROUND: Animal experimental studies suggest that the amino acid valine may decrease brain serotonin (5-HT) function by inhibiting the transport of the 5-HT precursor, L-tryptophan, across the blood barrier. The aim of the present study was to assess whether valine could decrease brain 5-HT function in healthy subjects and provoke symptomatic relapse in recently remitted depressed patients taking antidepressant drug treatment. METHOD: We studied the effect of valine (30 g) on the prolactin (PRL) response to the 5-HT releasing agent, D-fenfluramine, in healthy male subjects and on the mood of 12 remitted depressed patients taking either selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (n = 10) or lithium and amitriptyline (n = 2). RESULTS: Valine significantly lowered the PRL response to D-fenfluramine in healthy subjects. In the remitted depressives, valine caused a mild but detectable lowering of mood on a number of measures but only one patient experienced a significant relapse in mood. CONCLUSIONS: Valine administration may decrease brain 5-HT neurotransmission in humans. This effect could explain the mild increase in depressive symptoms in patients taking 5-HT-potentiating drugs.