Effects of rapid depletion of phenylalanine and tyrosine on sleep and behavior

E. S. Barratt, P. M. Adams, P. L. Poffenbarger, R. R. Fritz, C. W. Abell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The effects of fluctuations of free amino acid concentrations in plasma on sleep patterns and operant behavior in the squirrel monkey were studied. Plasma phenylalanine (PHE) and tyrosine (TYR) were rapidly lowered to trace levels within 4 hr by intraperitoneal administration of phenylalanine ammonia-lyase (PAL), an enzyme which specifically deaminates both PHE and TYR to inactive products. Significant alterations in sleep patterns and in performance on a chained operant task involving hold and reaction time components were found, but no significant effect on the performance of a simple operant task was observed. Administration of saline or trans-p-cinnamic acid and trans-p-coumaric acid, the products of PHE and TYR deamination, produced no changes in behavior or sleep patterns. The reduction of plasma PHE and TYR resulted in a significant decrease in PHE and TYR levels in whole rat brain. Brain serotonin levels were increased within 4 hr after PAL administration, whereas, dopamine and norepinephrine levels were decreased subsequently (within 8 hr). These studies suggest that circulating levels of PHE and TYR are involved directly or indirectly in the modulation of certain parameters of brain function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-53
Number of pages7
JournalPharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1976


  • Amino acids
  • Operant Behavior
  • Phenylalanine
  • Sleep patterns
  • Squirrel monkey
  • Tyrosine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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