Acute aerobic exercise restores tryptophan concentration in the brain of rats with hyperphenylalaninemia

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Introduction: Phenylketonuria (PKU) is characterized by deficiency of the enzyme phenylalanine hydroxylase, leading to accumulation of phenylalanine. Early diagnosis and subordination to low--phenylalanine diet are important to prevent the harmful effects of hyperphenylalaninemia. In case the diet is not strictly followed, some possible effects are imbalance in the neutral amino acids that use the same carrier of phenylalanine to cross the blood-brain barrier, causing hence reduction in tryptophan entry, the precursor of serotonin in the brain. This neurotransmitter has been implicated in the regulation of mood states, and its high production is linked to central fatigue in individuals subjected to prolonged exercise. Physical exercise increases free tryptophan levels in the blood, which facilitates its influx in the brain, and therefore, may be useful in hyperphenylalaninemia states. Objective: To assess whether aerobic exercise is able to normalize the concentrations of tryptophan in the brain of rats with hyperphenylalaninemia. Methods: 32 rats were randomly assigned to sedentary (Sed) and exercise (Exe) groups, and then divided into control (SAL) and hyperphenylalaninemia (PKU). Hyperphenylalaninemia was induced by administration of alpha-metylphenylalanine and phenylalanine for three days, while the SAL groups received saline. Exe groups held a session of aerobic exercise lasting 60 minutes and speed of 12 m.min-1. Results: The concentration of tryptophan in the brain of PKU groups was significantly lower than SAL groups (both in Sed and Exe groups), compatible with the condition of hyperphenylalaninemia. The exercise increased brain tryptophan levels comparing to sedentary animals. The most interesting finding was that the brain tryptophan levels of ExePKU group were not different from SedSAL group. Conclusion: The results indicate an important role of aerobic exercise to restore the concentration of tryptophan in the brain in hyperphenylalaninemic rats.




Mazzola, P. N., Moraes, T. B., Pederzolli, C. D., Rosa, A., Zanin, F. R., Coelho, J., & Dutra-Filho, C. S. (2012). Acute aerobic exercise restores tryptophan concentration in the brain of rats with hyperphenylalaninemia. Revista Brasileira de Medicina Do Esporte, 18(5), 338–340.

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