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The acute transient polymorphic psychosis: a biochemical subtype of the cycloid psychosis

  • L Pepplinkhuizen (a1), F M M A van der Heijden (a2), S Tuinier (a2), W M A Verhoeven (a1) (a2) and D Fekkes (a1)...



The pathogenesis of atypical psychoses, in particularly those characterized by polymorphic psychopathology, is hypothesized to be related to disturbances in amino acid metabolism.


In the present study, the role of the amino acid serine was investigated in patients with acute transient polymorphic psychosis.


Patients were loaded with serine and with the amino acids glycine and alanine as controls and subsequently evaluated for the development of psychopathological symptoms. In addition, plasma levels of amino acids were measured.


In a subgroup of patients suffering from atypical psychoses, this biochemical challenge resulted in the reappearance of psychedelic symptoms in particular. Furthermore, significantly lower plasma concentrations of serine were found. In vitro experiments revealed a disturbance in the one-carbon metabolism. In another group of patients the loading provoked vegetative symptoms and fatigue.


Disturbances in amino acid metabolism may be involved in the emergence of certain psychotic disorders.


Corresponding author

FMMA Van der Heijden MD, Vincent van Gogh Institute for Psychiatry, Stationsweg 46, 5803 AC Venray, the Netherlands. Tel. 31.478.527339, Fax: 31.478.527110;


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