Fructose malabsorption is associated with decreased plasma tryptophan

Adv Exp Med Biol. 1999:467:73-8. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4615-4709-9_9.


Fructose malabsorption is characterized by the inability to absorb fructose efficiently. Consequently fructose reaches the colon and is broken down by bacteria to short-fatty-acids, CO2 and H2. Recently we found that fructose malabsorption was associated with signs of depression. It was therefore of interest to find out whether fructose malabsorption is associated with abnormal tryptophan metabolism. Breath hydrogen concentrations were measured in 50 after an oral dose of 50 g fructose allowing to classify them as normals (n = 15) or fructose malabsorbers (n = 35). Blood samples were taken for tryptophan and kynurenine measurements. Fructose malabsorbers showed significantly lower plasma tryptophan concentrations and significantly higher depression scores compared to normals. Fructose malabsorption is associated with lower tryptophan levels which may play a role in the development of depressive disorders.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Breath Tests
  • Depression / complications
  • Depression / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Fructose / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen / analysis
  • Intestinal Absorption
  • Malabsorption Syndromes / blood
  • Malabsorption Syndromes / metabolism*
  • Malabsorption Syndromes / psychology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Reference Values
  • Tryptophan / blood*


  • Fructose
  • Hydrogen
  • Tryptophan