The effect of presynaptic catecholamine depletion on 6-hydroxymelatonin sulfate: a double blind study of alpha-methyl-para-tyrosine.Eur Neuropsychopharmacol 1999; 9(1-2):61-6EN
Because it is a competitive inhibitor of tyrosine hydroxylase, alpha-methyl-para-tyrosine (AMPT) is used to study psychiatric disorders. Melatonin serves as a biological marker of catecholamine function since its secretion is regulated by noradrenergic neurons via beta-adrenergic receptors in the pineal gland. Ten healthy volunteers were administered AMPT in a double-blind placebo controlled study. When subjects received AMPT, nocturnal 6-hydroxymelatonin sulfate (6-SM) decreased significantly as compared with promethazine (night 1 P=0.002; and night 2 P=0.001). Urinary MHPG also decreased on both study days (DF1,9 F=9.82, GG=0.0121). Nocturnal 6-SM excretion and melatonin secretion correlated highly (r=0.91, P=0.0007). Behavioral ratings did not reveal a difference in symptomatology and did not correlate with changes in 6-SM or MHPG. This study demonstrates in healthy controls that 6-SM reliably reflects presynaptic catecholamine depletion induced by AMPT without the emergence of behavioral symptoms.