Simultaneous determination of tryptophan, 5-hydroxytryptophan, 5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid, 4-hydroxy-3-methoxyphenylacetic acid and 3-methoxy-4-hydroxyphenylglycol in human cerebrospinal fluid

J Chromatogr B Biomed Appl. 1994 Nov 4;661(1):143-8. doi: 10.1016/0378-4347(94)00316-5.


Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine) metabolism may be influenced by its precursor tryptophan. A method utilizing reversed-phase high-performance liquid chromatography and electrochemical and ultraviolet detection with a mobile phase composed of acetate buffer and methanol has been developed for determination of tryptophan, its metabolites 5-hydroxytryptophan, serotonin, 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid, as well as 4-hydroxy-3-methoxyphenylacetic acid (homovanillic acid) and 3-methoxy-4-hydroxyphenylglycol in human cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). The electrochemical potential is set at 0.6 V in order to reduce the background current. Since tryptophan is not electroactive at this potential, it is detected by ultraviolet absorbance. The present method is simple, rapid, specific and accurate as compared with a previously reported method. No sample pretreatment is necessary and it takes ca. 20 min to run a sample. The concentrations of the compounds measured in CSF are similar to those obtained by HPLC in previous reports, although there are still arguments about the true level of serotonin in CSF.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 5-Hydroxytryptophan / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • 5-Hydroxytryptophan / metabolism
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid / methods*
  • Female
  • Homovanillic Acid / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Homovanillic Acid / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Hydroxyindoleacetic Acid / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Hydroxyindoleacetic Acid / metabolism
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Methoxyhydroxyphenylglycol / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Methoxyhydroxyphenylglycol / metabolism
  • Serotonin / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Serotonin / metabolism
  • Temperature
  • Tryptophan / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Tryptophan / metabolism
  • Tuberculosis, Meningeal / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Tuberculosis, Meningeal / metabolism


  • Serotonin
  • Methoxyhydroxyphenylglycol
  • Hydroxyindoleacetic Acid
  • Tryptophan
  • 5-Hydroxytryptophan
  • Homovanillic Acid