Increased cerebrospinal fluid corticotropin-releasing factor concentrations during tryptophan depletion in healthy adults

Audrey R. Tyrka, Linda L. Carpenter, Christopher J. McDougle, Paul D. Kirwin, Michael J. Owens, Charles B. Nemeroff, David R. Strong, Lawrence H. Price

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Brain serotonin neurotransmission and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis function are implicated in the pathophysiology of depression, and these systems interact in a reciprocal modulatory fashion. This study examined the effect of tryptophan depletion, which acutely reduces brain serotonin concentrations, on serial cerebrospinal fluid concentrations of corticotropin-releasing factor in healthy humans. Five subjects completed a standard tryptophan depletion protocol, and four subjects participated in a comparison condition. Subjects underwent continuous sampling of cerebrospinal fluid via lumbar peristaltic pump. Concentrations of cerebrospinal fluid corticotropin-releasing factor were measured by radioimmunoassay. No mood changes were observed in either group. Tryptophan-depleted subjects exhibited significantly greater increases in corticotropin-releasing factor concentrations over time than subjects in the comparison condition. These findings highlight the potential importance of corticotropin-releasing factor and serotonin interactions and suggest that activation of corticotropin-releasing-factor-containing neurons could play a role in the emergence of mood symptoms following tryptophan depletion in vulnerable individuals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)531-534
Number of pages4
JournalBiological Psychiatry
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 1 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Cerebrospinal fluid
  • corticotropin-releasing factor
  • CRF
  • CSF
  • depression
  • HPA
  • hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal
  • neuroendocrine
  • tryptophan depletion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry


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