We studied the effect of acute tryptophan depletion (ATD), which transiently reduces brain serotonin, on negative symptoms and cigarette smoking topography in schizophrenic smokers. Nicotine-dependent schizophrenics (n = 11) and nonpsychiatric controls (n = 8) were examined after ingesting comparable mixtures that do and do not deplete plasma tryptophan. Tryptophan-depleting and placebo mixtures were administered double-blind and in counterbalanced order. Conditions were separated by a 1-week interval. Psychopathologic symptoms (negative symptoms, depression) and smoking topography (time to first puff, number of puffs per cigarette, puff duration, interpuff interval, cigarette duration, and percentage of cigarette smoked) were measured before ingestion and again beginning 5 h after each mixture, corresponding to the time of maximal tryptophan depletion. Analyses were conducted using repeated measures analyses of variance (psychopathologic symptoms) and analyses of covariance (smoking topography) controlling for cigarette length. We found that ATD influenced smoking topography in both schizophrenics and nonpsychiatric controls in a manner suggestive of increased desire to smoke. Schizophrenics exhibited increased puff duration and decreased cigarette duration. Controls displayed increased puff duration. ATD did not produce changes in negative symptoms or depression. Compromising brain serotonin via ATD appears to intensify smoking behavior in nicotine-dependent individuals directly, rather than indirectly through changes in either mood or psychopathologic symptoms.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health