Groups of rats were deprived of food overnight and then given free access to diets designed to raise (carbohydrate) or lower (carbohydrate and large neutral amino acids) brain tryptophan concentrations. Similar diets were supplemented with 40% fat and fed to other groups. All animals were killed 2h after food presentation. Sera from animals fed carbohydrate plus fat contained 2.5 times as much free tryptophan concentrations did not differ. Similarly, sera from rats fed on carbohydrate, large neutral amino acids, and 40% fat contained 5 times as much free tryptophan as those from rats given this meal without fat, but brain tryptophan concentrations increased by only 26%. Correlations were made between brain tryptophan and (1) free serum tryptophan, (2) the ratio of free serum tryptophan to the sum of the other large neutral amino acids in serum that compete with it for uptake into the brain, (3) total serum tryptophan or (4) the ratio of total serum tryptophan to the sum of its circulating competitors. The r values for correlations (3) and (4) (i.e. those involving total serum tryptophan) were appreciably higher than those for correlations (1) and (2). Brain tyrosine concentrations also were found to correlate well with the ratio of serum tyrosine to the sum of its competitors. Competition for uptake into the brain among large neutral amino acids (represented here by serum ratios) thus appears to determine the changes in the brain concentrations of these amino acids under physiological conditions(i.e. after food consumption). Total, not free, serum tryptophan is the relevant index for predicting brain tryptophan concentrations.

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