Tryptophan Depletion: A Phenotypic Marker for Depression

    Project: Research project

    Grant Details


    DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): The research objectives of this study are to improve our understanding of major depression and its pathophysiology, improve our ability to predict future episodes, and identify susceptibility genes predisposing to major mood disorders. We expect to accomplish these by utilizing a candidate gene approach to study the association of several monoamine related genotypic markers and the depressive response to tryptophan (TRP) depletion as a newly defined phenotype. The TRP depletion paradigm is a broadly utilized research methodology that safely and effectively has contributed to our improved understanding of the physiological effects of serotonin neurotransmission in a variety of research models and subject populations. Specifically, the neurotransmitter depletion paradigms have been proposed as phenotypes for major affective disorders based on their ability to induce brief and reversible depressive responses in subjects considered at risk for depression - such as remitted depressives, and subjects with multigenerational family history of affective disorders - but not in healthy controls. We propose to study a new phenotypic definition because "depression" is a highly heterogeneous condition. This, along with the lack of objective biological measurements of the disease, has limited progress in the field. The present study will conduct TRP depletion testing in 100 subjects with history of major depression but who are currently in remission and medication-free for at least three months. TRP depletion involves two 3-day sessions (active depletion and control) in a double blind, controlled, crossover design. Day one involves the ingestion of a TRP-free 15 amino acid drink or a TRP-supplemented 16 amino acid drink. Clinician and self-rated behavioral measurements of depression, anxiety, and somatic symptoms, as well as blood samples for measurement of plasma TRP and large neutral amino acids will be obtained prior to, during, and after testing. Subjects will be monitored prospectively for major depressive recurrences during the follow-up year. TRP depletion testing will take place at two sites: The University of Arizona, and University Hospitals of Cleveland / Case Western Reserve University Departments of Psychiatry. Polymerase Chain Reaction based Genotyping will be performed in order to study several candidate gene polymorphisms relevant to monoamine function. Genotyping will take place at the University of Arizona. A thoughtfully implemented procedure for protection of human subjects is in place to safeguard participant's safety. Compelling pilot data are presented to support the study feasibility and validity of the proposed hypotheses.
    Effective start/end date4/1/033/31/09


    • National Institutes of Health: $530,366.00
    • National Institutes of Health: $369,007.00
    • National Institutes of Health: $451,579.00
    • National Institutes of Health: $445,186.00
    • National Institutes of Health: $464,545.00


    • Medicine(all)


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