European Journal of Nutrition

, Volume 53, Issue 1, pp 297–308

Effects of high-tryptophan diet on pre- and postnatal development in rats: a morphological study

  • Paola Castrogiovanni
  • Giuseppe Musumeci
  • Francesca Maria Trovato
  • Rosanna Avola
  • Gaetano Magro
  • Rosa Imbesi
Original Contribution

DOI: 10.1007/s00394-013-0528-4

Cite this article as:
Castrogiovanni, P., Musumeci, G., Trovato, F.M. et al. Eur J Nutr (2014) 53: 297. doi:10.1007/s00394-013-0528-4

Abstract

Purpose

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid, precursor of serotonin. Serotonin (5HT) regulates the secretion of pituitary growth hormone (GH), which in turn stimulates the liver to produce insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) that is necessary for development and growth. The aim of our study was to investigate the effects of an excess of tryptophan in the diet of pregnant rats on the differentiation of skeletal muscle tissue.

Methods

We conducted an immunohistochemical study on the IGF-I expression in hepatic and muscle tissues in offspring, and then, we associated this molecular data with morphological effects on the structure of the muscle fibers and hepatic tissue at different postnatal weeks, from birth to sexual maturity. Measurements of 5HT, GH in blood, and of tryptophan hydroxylase (Tph) activity in gastrointestinal tracts tissue were also taken.

Results

Hyperserotonemia and higher values of Tph activity were detected in both pregnant rats and pups. Very low levels of GH were detected in experimental pups. Morphological alterations of the muscle fibers and lower IGF-I expression in hepatic and muscle tissue in pups were found.

Conclusions

Our data suggest that an excess of tryptophan in the diet causes hyperserotonemia in fetus. Hyperserotonemia results in an excess of serotonin in the brain where it has an adverse effect on the development of serotonergic neurons. The affected neurons do not regulate optimally the secretion of pituitary GH that consequently decreases. This limits stimulation in the liver to produce IGF-I, crucial for development and growth of pups.

Keywords

TryptophanSerotoninGrowth hormoneInsulin-like growth factorDevelopmentDiet

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paola Castrogiovanni
    • 1
  • Giuseppe Musumeci
    • 1
  • Francesca Maria Trovato
    • 2
  • Rosanna Avola
    • 1
  • Gaetano Magro
    • 3
  • Rosa Imbesi
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Bio-Medical Science, Section of Human Anatomy and HistologyUniversity of CataniaCataniaItaly
  2. 2.Department of Internal MedicineUniversity of CataniaCataniaItaly
  3. 3.Department G.F. Ingrassia, Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria “Policlinico-Vittorio Emanuele” Anatomic PathologyUniversity of CataniaCataniaItaly