Tyrosine metabolism in users of oral contraceptives

Life Sci. 1995;56(9):687-95. doi: 10.1016/0024-3205(94)00502-j.


Brain noradrenaline takes part in the regulation of several brain functions. The formation of brain noradrenaline depends on brain tyrosine (Tyr) levels, which associates with the ratio in plasma of Tyr to other large, neutral amino acids (LNAA). Tyr metabolism has been studied in users of the new generation combined oral contraceptives (OC) and comparable controls at the follicular, mid-cycle, and luteal phases of the menstrual cycle. OC users showed significantly increased plasma Tyr transaminase activity, and significantly decreased plasma Tyr and Tyr/LNAA levels at mid-cycle and luteal phase, whereas plasma total 3-methoxy-4-hydroxyphenylglycol (MHPG) was not affected. Following an oral protein load, the area under the curve in plasma of Tyr and Tyr/LNAA in OC users at the luteal phase were 43% and 29%, respectively, of control levels. The results suggest that the decreased Tyr availability to the brain in OC users may result in a substrate-limited reduction of brain noradrenaline formation, which, secondarily, may contribute to disturbances of mood, coping mechanisms, and appetite in susceptible subjects.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Albumins / administration & dosage
  • Amino Acids / blood
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Contraceptives, Oral, Combined / pharmacology*
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Follicular Phase
  • Humans
  • Luteal Phase
  • Menstrual Cycle*
  • Methoxyhydroxyphenylglycol / blood
  • Tyrosine / blood
  • Tyrosine / metabolism*


  • Albumins
  • Amino Acids
  • Contraceptives, Oral, Combined
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Tyrosine
  • Methoxyhydroxyphenylglycol