The effects of L-tryptophan and melatonin on selected biochemical parameters in patients with steatohepatitis

J Physiol Pharmacol. 2010 Oct;61(5):577-80.


Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is the most common chronic liver disease and nonalcocholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is its advanced form. Oxidative stress and hepatocyte apoptosis may be involved in pathogenesis of NASH and particularly in progress of NASH to liver fibrosis and cirrhosis, which are initiated by the inflammation and which promote the progress of the disease. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of melatonin and L-tryptophan on selected biochemical parameters of blood in patients with NASH. Forty five patients with NASH, confirmed by histopathological examination of liver biopsy samples, were admitted to the study. They were divided into three groups (I, II and III). The first group (group I, n=15) received preparation Essentiale forte 3 times a day and tryptophan 500 mg twice daily for 4 weeks. In the second group (group II, n=15), Essentiale forte three times a day was administered with melatonin 5 mg applied twice a day for 4 weeks. The third group (group III, n=15) received only Essentiale forte with placebo three times a day for 4 weeks. After four-week treatment we found statistically significant reduction in GGTP, triglycerides and proinflammatory cytokine levels in the melatonin-treated (group I) and the L-tryptophan-treated patients (group II). Plasma level of melatonin was significantly elevated in groups treated with tryptophan (group I) and melatonin (group II), but remained unchanged in placebo-treated group (group III). Among patients from the third group (treated with placebo) no statistically significant differences in the measured biochemical parameters were observed. The present study suggests that melatonin and tryptophan have the significant impact on the reduction in plasma levels of proinflammatory cytokines and may be useful in the treatment of patients with NASH.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antioxidants / administration & dosage
  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Cytokines / blood*
  • Fatty Liver / etiology
  • Fatty Liver / metabolism*
  • Fatty Liver / pathology
  • Female
  • Hepatocytes / pathology
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Liver / pathology
  • Liver Cirrhosis / complications
  • Liver Cirrhosis / pathology
  • Liver Function Tests
  • Male
  • Melatonin / administration & dosage
  • Melatonin / blood
  • Melatonin / metabolism
  • Melatonin / pharmacology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Phosphatidylcholines / administration & dosage
  • Phosphatidylcholines / pharmacology
  • Triglycerides / blood
  • Tryptophan / administration & dosage
  • Tryptophan / metabolism
  • Tryptophan / pharmacology*
  • Young Adult
  • gamma-Glutamyltransferase / blood


  • Antioxidants
  • Cytokines
  • Phosphatidylcholines
  • Triglycerides
  • essential 303 forte
  • Tryptophan
  • gamma-Glutamyltransferase
  • Melatonin