Effects of tryptophan metabolism on the brain: From early development to Alzheimer's disease

Adrián Rodríguez-Contreras, Lingyan Shi, Robert R. Alfano

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The stage of development during the mammalian life cycle is dependent on the effects of tryptophan (Trp) and its metabolites. Studies on Trp metabolism utilize a variety of approaches (such as biochemical detection mechanisms of Trp) to show changes in Trp and Trp metabolite levels in different tissues and body fluids. Biophotonics has been recently used for the analysis of brain samples from a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease. Trp (and other biomolecules like NADH) fluorescence was used to distinguish tissue from mutant Alzheimer's disease vs control tissues. These results suggest that, in the future, biophotonics may aid the diagnosis of neurologic disease in humans. It is proposed that other physiological states where Trp and Trp metabolite levels change compared to a baseline may also be studied with biophotonics. For example, new insights may be obtained by investigating changes in Trp fluorescence during brain development. These insights may now be within reach due to novel, non-invasive optical technologies, which can be utilized to track Trp fluorescence in defined cells and in brain regions as organisms grow.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationBiophotonics, Tryptophan and Disease
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9780128227909
ISBN (Print)9780128227916
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Biophotonics
  • Brain development
  • Fluorescence
  • Tryptophan

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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