Emotional processing as a predictor of symptom change: an acute tryptophan depletion study in depressed patients

Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2011 May;21(5):379-83. doi: 10.1016/j.euroneuro.2010.09.007. Epub 2010 Oct 12.


Acute tryptophan depletion (ATD) in currently depressed patients has no immediate effect on symptoms, but leads to transient symptom improvement or worsening the next day. In view of recent findings concerning the cognitive effects of serotonin manipulations, we used ATD in fourteen depressed patients to investigate whether cognitive effects following ATD predict symptom changes. We found that symptom improvement 24h after ATD was associated with an improved recall of positive words and with less attentional bias and recall of negative words, 5h after ATD. These results indicate that serotonergic alterations affect emotional processing which may subsequently lead to symptom changes.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology
  • Cognition Disorders / therapy
  • Depression / diet therapy*
  • Depression / physiopathology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Mental Recall / drug effects
  • Mental Recall / physiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Reaction Time / drug effects
  • Time Factors
  • Tryptophan / administration & dosage
  • Tryptophan / deficiency*
  • Young Adult


  • Tryptophan