Biochemical and behavioural effects of acute tryptophan depletion in abstinent bulimic subjects: a pilot study

Psychol Med. 1995 Sep;25(5):995-1001. doi: 10.1017/s003329170003748x.


We studied the effect of acute tryptophan (TRP) depletion in a group of eight abstinent bulimic (BN) subjects and in 12 healthy female controls. Despite being free of episodes of binge-eating and vomiting for a prolonged period, the abstinent BN subjects still appeared to practice dietary restrain as judged by their food intake in a test meal. In addition, their plasma TRP concentrations were significantly lower than those of the controls. Administration of a TRP-free amino acid load (52 g) significantly lowered plasma total and free TRP. However, compared to a balanced amino acid load, this procedure did not have significant effects on mood, appetite or food intake in either the abstinent BN subjects or the healthy controls.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bulimia / blood*
  • Bulimia / diagnosis
  • Bulimia / psychology*
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Eating
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Tryptophan / blood
  • Tryptophan / deficiency*


  • Tryptophan