Physiological roles of tryptophan in teleosts: current knowledge and perspectives for future studies

Seyyed Morteza Hoseini*, Amelia Pérez-Jiménez, Benjamin Costas, Rita Azeredo, Manuel Gesto

*Corresponding author for this work

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Tryptophan is an essential amino acid with a huge functional versatility, in addition to its participation in protein synthesis. Because of the complexity of its metabolism, and the functional relevance of several of its metabolites, it directly or indirectly participates in a wide array of physiological pathways. This amino acid is a precursor for the synthesis of the neurotransmitter/neuromodulator serotonin (5HT), the hormone melatonin and kynurenine and related compounds such as kynurenic acid, quinolinic acid or niacin. Because of this, it has a key role in the regulation of processes ranging from the neuroendocrine to the immune system in vertebrates. In aquaculture, extensive research has been performed to optimize the levels of tryptophan in the commercial diets for many fish species. Providing adequate levels of this amino acid is critically important for fish growth but also for fish welfare, as tryptophan has been shown to modulate fish behaviour, stress responses, and antioxidant and immune systems. Currently, available data suggest a wide variation in tryptophan requirements of different species ranging 0.3–1.3% of dietary protein level, but recent evidence also shows that fish tryptophan requirements can greatly vary depending on the rearing conditions of the fish. We also review here the participation of tryptophan and related metabolites in different physiological functions that are crucial for fish welfare. The review covers the involvement of tryptophan in 5HT‐ and melatonin‐mediated functions, along with its participation in the regulation of the immune system and its role as an antioxidant and antitoxic agent in fish.
Original languageEnglish
JournalReviews in Aquaculture (Print)
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)3-24
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Antioxidant response
  • Immune mechanism
  • Melatonin
  • Serotonin
  • Tryptophan metabolism


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