The influence of meal composition on plasma serotonin and norepinephrine concentrations

Metabolism. 1992 Feb;41(2):137-40. doi: 10.1016/0026-0495(92)90141-v.


Reports concerning changes in plasma neurotransmitter values that result from dietary manipulations have not been published so far. The influence of various meal compositions on platelet-poor plasma (PPP) serotonin (5-HT) and norepinephrine (NE) levels was investigated. Healthy volunteers were subjected to three test meals: a carbohydrate-rich meal (86% carbohydrates), a protein-rich meal (70% protein), and a fat-rich meal (92% fat). After a carbohydrate-rich meal, PPP 5-HT values increased significantly (4.47-fold, P less than .02), whereas a smaller increase (1.66-fold, P = NS) was observed after a fat-rich meal. These effects on PPP 5-HT values could be correlated with insulin plasma levels. A protein-rich meal significantly reduced (P = 0.0011) PPP 5-HT to 28% of initial values, despite an increase in plasma insulin levels. This study has shown that (1) changes in meal compositions influence PPP 5-HT and, to a lesser extent, NE values; (2) the resulting changes in PPP 5-HT levels parallel those reported for brain neurotransmitters; and (3) these results seem to indicate that PPP 5-HT levels may be a model for brain synthesis and release of 5-HT.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Fats
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Eating
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Norepinephrine / blood*
  • Serotonin / blood*
  • Time Factors


  • Blood Glucose
  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Fats
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Insulin
  • Serotonin
  • Norepinephrine