The effect of insulin upon the influx of tryptophan into the brain of the rabbit.


  • Daniel P M,

  • Love E R,

  • Moorhouse S R,

  • Pratt O E


1. The effect of hyperinsulinaemia upon the influx of tryptophan into the brain was determined. A raised level of insulin was maintained in the circulation of rabbits for periods of up to 120 min by means of a continuous, programmed intravenous injection of the hormone, given by an electronically controlled variable-drive syringe. A similar, appropriately programmed, intravenous injection of glucose, given simultaneously with the insulin, maintained the concentration of the blood glucose within normal limits throughout each experiment, so that the results were not vitiated by the development of hypoglycaemia. 2. Raised levels of insulin in the blood affect the supply of tryptophan to the brain in two opposing ways: (a) by increasing the binding of tryptophan to the albumin in the blood, thereby reducing the level of the free tryptophan in the circulation by about a half, which would decrease the influx of tryptophan into the brain; (b) by simultaneously reducing the levels in the blood of six or more of the amino acids which compete with tryptophan for transport carriers into the brain, which would increase the influx of tryptophan. The net result of these two opposing effects is that insulin causes only a slight increase in the influx of tryptophan into the brain. 3. To account in quantitative terms for the effect of insulin upon the influx of tryptophan into the brain it proved necessary to make one assumption. This assumption was that a predictable proportion of the tryptophan which is loosely bound to blood albumin is being stripped off this protein by the transport carrier located on the luminal surface membranes of the endothelial cells during the passage of the blood through the cerebral capillaries. If this assumption is accepted the work reported here explains adequately the effect of insulin on the influx of tryptophan into the brain.