The depletion of systemic tryptophan is an important tool to study the effects of reduced 5-HT on cognition. Indeed, previous reports indicated that acute depletion of TRP leads to a memory impairment in human subjects and rodents. From the view of nutrition, it is important to investigate the effects of chronic limitation of l-tryptophan (TRP) on learning and memory formation. In this study, we examined the effects of chronic consumption of a low TRP diet on memory formation in mice. Specifically, we assessed the ability to form contextual fear, cued fear, conditioned taste aversion, and spatial memories in mice fed a TRP-limited diet for at least 1 month. TRP-limited mice showed impaired formation of contextual fear memory that is hippocampus-dependent. In contrast, these mice showed normal hippocampus-dependent spatial memory in the Morris water maze test, as well as in cued fear and conditioned taste aversion memories, which are amygdala-dependent memory processes. Thus, dietary TRP restriction appears to result in selective impairments in hippocampus-dependent contextual fear memory formation in mice.
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