Plasma L-tryptophan depletion and aggression

D. M. Dougherty, F. G. Moeller, J. M. Bjork, D. M. Marsh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


There is a well-established relationship between aggression and lowered serotonin neurotransmission. Recently developed methodologies for manipulating L-tryptophan levels (and brain serotonin) have been applied to human laboratory studies of aggression. Collectively, these studies provide further evidence for the serotonin-aggression relationship. Two important findings have been made recently: (1) subsets of individuals (e.g., persons self-rating high on aggressive or hostility scales) may differ in their susceptibility to aggression produced through plasma tryptophan depletion; and (2) alcohol in combination with L-tryptophan depletion has an additive effect on aggression. All previous studies have been conducted with men. Extending these studies to women appears to be the much-needed next step given that serotonergic levels appear to vary both as a function of the menstrual cycle phase and menstrual symptomatology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)57-65
Number of pages9
JournalAdvances in experimental medicine and biology
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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