The proposed line of investigation is principally designed to study in rats the role of serotonin neurons in the control of specific brain functions; i.e., sleep, nociception, and growth hormone and prolactin secretion. The effects on these functions of amino acid, drug, and diet induced alterations in serotonin transmission will be explored. Other studies will determine if agents suspected of making serotonin receptors supersensitive cause the above brain outputs to repons to smaller-than-normal doses of tryptophan, serotonin agonists, or serotonin reuptake blockers. In addition, a portion of the proposed studies will attempt to determine if peripheral and/or central nervous system mechanisms are responsible for caffeine- and morphine-induced increments in brain tryptophan and serotonin. Finally, in associated experiments, we will also study the effects of administering methyldopa, a large neutral amino acid drug, on sleep and prolactin secretion, and of tyrosine, which in certain cases stimulates catecholamine synthesis, on sleep and pain sensitivity. The information derived from these nutritional, pharmacologic, and psychopharmacologic investigations should provide new insights into the involvement of central nervous system serotonin (and catecholamine) neurons in the control of sleep, pain perception, and pituitary hormone secretion.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of Pittsburgh
Schools of Medicine
United States
Zip Code
Fernstrom, J D (1988) Carbohydrate ingestion and brain serotonin synthesis: relevance to a putative control loop for regulating carbohydrate ingestion, and effects of aspartame consumption. Appetite 11 Suppl 1:35-41
Vivaldi, E A; Pastel, R H; Bakalian, M J et al. (1988) A microcomputer-based sleep system: data acquisition and system calibration programs. Brain Res Bull 20:133-8
Pastel, R H; Fernstrom, J D (1987) Short-term effects of fluoxetine and trifluoromethylphenylpiperazine on electroencephalographic sleep in the rat. Brain Res 436:92-102
Fernstrom, J D; Fernstrom, M H; Grubb, P E (1987) Twenty-four-hour variations in rat blood and brain levels of the aromatic and branched-chain amino acids: chronic effects of dietary protein content. Metabolism 36:643-50
Fernstrom, J D (1987) Food-induced changes in brain serotonin synthesis: is there a relationship to appetite for specific macronutrients? Appetite 8:163-82
Fernstrom, M H; Fernstrom, J D (1987) Protein consumption increases tyrosine concentration and in vivo tyrosine hydroxylation rate in the light-adapted rat retina. Brain Res 401:392-6
Fernstrom, M H; Volk, E A; Fernstrom, J D (1986) In vivo inhibition of tyrosine uptake into rat retina by large neutral but not acidic amino acids. Am J Physiol 251:E393-9
Fernstrom, J D; Fernstrom, M H; Grubb, P E (1986) Effects of aspartame ingestion on the carbohydrate-induced rise in tryptophan hydroxylation rate in rat brain. Am J Clin Nutr 44:195-205
Fernstrom, J D (1986) Acute and chronic effects of protein and carbohydrate ingestion on brain tryptophan levels and serotonin synthesis. Nutr Rev 44 Suppl:25-36
Fernstrom, J D; Fernstrom, M H; Grubb, P E et al. (1985) Absence of chronic effects of dietary protein content on brain tryptophan concentrations in rats. J Nutr 115:1337-44