Behavioral effects of dietary neurotransmitter precursors: basic and clinical aspects

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 1996 Summer;20(2):313-23. doi: 10.1016/0149-7634(95)00022-4.


The levels and possibly function of several neurotransmitters can be influenced by the supply of their dietary precursors. The neurotransmitters include serotonin, dopamine, noradrenaline, histamine, acetylcholine and glycine, which are formed from tryptophan, tyrosine, histidine, choline and threonine. Tryptophan has been tested more than the other precursors in clinical trials and is currently available in some countries for the treatment of depression. Other uses for tryptophan and the therapeutic potential of other neurotransmitter precursors have not been tested adequately. Given the relative lack of toxicity of dietary components, further clinical trials with neurotransmitter precursors should be carried out.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior / drug effects*
  • Behavior / physiology
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Diet
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / diet therapy*
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / metabolism
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / pharmacology*
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / physiology


  • Neurotransmitter Agents