Anorexia and altered serotonin metabolism in a patient with argininosuccinic aciduria

Susan L. Hyman, Joseph T. Coyle, James C. Parke, Cynthia Porter, George H. Thomas, William Jankel, Mark L. Batshaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


We studied serotonin metabolism in a metabolically stable 7-year-old giri with argininosuccinic aciduria who had severe anorexia. The CSF concentration of 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (HIAA), the metabolite of serotonin, was markedly elevated at 79 ng/ml (normal 33±11 ng/ml). Altered serotonin metabolism was also refiected in the sleep EEG, which showed decreased REM sleep. Reducing her intake of tryptophan, the precursor of serotonin, from 35 mg/kg/day to 7 mg/kg/day resulted in a decrease in CSF concentration of HIAA to 20 ng/ml and the onset of spontaneous eating for the first time in 4 1/2 years. REM sleep increased from 3% to 9.5% of total sleep time. Two days after increasing tryptophan intake to 25 mg/kg/day, spontaneous feeding stopped, associated with a rise in CSF HIAA to 45 ng/ml. Caloric/carbohydrate intake was found to affect CSF HIAA levels and food intake in an additive manner with tryptophan intake. These observations suggest that altered serotonin metabolism affected feeding behavior in this child, and that this effect could be modified by changing tryptophan or carbohydrate intake.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)705-709
Number of pages5
JournalThe Journal of pediatrics
Issue number5 PART 1
StatePublished - May 1986
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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