Depression and tetrahydrobiopterin: the folate connection

A. Coppen, C. Swade, S.A. Jones, Richard A. Armstrong, J.A. Blair, R.J. Leeming

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Total biopterin, neopterin and creatinine were measured in spot urine samples from affective disorder patients on lithium therapy and control subjects. Folic acid was also measured in plasma in a sample of the patients. The mean neopterin: biopterin ratio was significantly higher in the 76 patients (3.2 +/- 0.5) than in the 61 controls (1.8 +/- 0.1). In female patients biopterin levels were significantly lower than in controls. In the control groups there was a significant correlation between the molar concentration of neopterin and biopterin. No such correlation was found in the patients. These data indicate that tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4) biosynthesis is reduced in this group. A significant positive correlation was found between plasma folate and urinary biopterin. It is suggested that folate deficiency may impair the synthesis of BH4, a cofactor essential for the synthesis of 5-HT and other monoamines that are involved in the pathogenesis of affective disorders.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-107
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1989


  • Tetrahydrobiopterin
  • neopterin
  • depression
  • folic acid
  • monoamines

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