Intake of tryptophan-enriched whey protein acutely enhances recall of positive loaded words in patients with multiple sclerosis

Cindy K Lieben*, Arjan Blokland, Nicolaas E Deutz, Willemijn Jansen, Gang Han, Raymond M Hupperts

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BACKGROUND & AIMS: Multiple sclerosis (MS) has physiological and/or immunological characteristics that diminish serotonin metabolism, a neurotransmitter associated with affective and cognitive functions. The aim was examine the acute and dose-dependent effects of a dietary tryptophan (TRP) enrichment on affective and cognitive functions in MS patients. We hypothesized that increased dietary availability of the amino acid TRP enhances serotonin concentrations and improves neuropsychological functions.

METHODS: In a double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study, MS patients with (n = 15) and without (n = 17) depressed mood ingested a whey protein mixture with 4 different amounts of TRP. Mood states, total plasma TRP and plasma TRP/ΣLNAA ratio were measured during each test session and cognitive tasks were conducted three hours after dietary intake.

RESULTS: A fast, transient and dose-dependent increase of total plasma TRP and TRP/ΣLNAA ratio was found. Ratings of negative mood decreased over time, independent of the TRP dose. Relative to whey-only, immediate word recall and delayed recognition improved after ingestion of the lowest added TRP dose and was mainly due to better recollection for positive loaded words. Executive functions were not affected by a difference in TRP availability.

CONCLUSIONS: A moderate addition of TRP to whey protein enhances memory processes without improving the mood state in MS. ccmo-registration number is NL32316.096.10.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-328
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Nutrition
Issue number1
Early online date16 Jan 2017
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018


  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Tryptophan enrichment
  • Mood
  • Cognition
  • Hydrolyzed whey protein
  • MOOD

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