Blood-brain neutral amino acid transport activity is increased after portacaval anastomosis

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Science  23 Jun 1978:
Vol. 200, Issue 4348, pp. 1395-1397
DOI: 10.1126/science.663619


In rats after portacaval anastomosis (an animal model of chronic liver disease), transport of tryptophan and other members of the large neutral amino acid group from blood to brain was markedly enhanced. Increased transport activity was apparently restricted to the neutral amino acid transport system, since brain uptake of glucose, inulin, and tyramine was unaffected while blood-brain arginine transport was significantly reduced. These results strikingly confirm the hypothesis that carrier-mediated blood-brain transport is the limiting factor determining the availability of the neutral amino acids to the brain. The encephalopathy associated with cirrhosis may be the result of abnormal neurotransmitter metabolism and neurotransmission secondary to increased neutral amino acid transport activity and an increased brain content of members of the neutral amino acid group.