Serotonin – Kynurenine Hypothesis of Depression: Historical Overview and Recent Developments

Author(s): Gregory Oxenkrug

Journal Name: Current Drug Targets

Volume 14 , Issue 5 , 2013

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This mini-review focuses on the studies of late Prof. IP Lapin (1903 – 2012) and his research team on the role of methoxyindole and kynurenine (KYN) pathways of tryptophan (TRP) metabolism in the pathogenesis of depression and action mechanisms of antidepressant effect. In the late 60s of the last century Prof. IP Lapin suggested that “intensification of central serotoninergic processes is a determinant of the thymoleptic (mood elevating) component” while “activation of noradrenergic processes is responsible for psychoenergetic and motor-stimulating component of the clinical antidepressant effect”. The cause of serotonin deficiency in depression was attributed to the shunt of TRP “metabolism away from serotonin production towards KYN production” due to cortisol-induced activation of liver enzyme, tryptophan 2,3- dioxygenase, the rate-limiting enzyme of TRP – KYN pathway. Prof. Lapin suggested and discovered that KYN and its metabolites affect brain functions, and proposed the role of neurokynurenines in pathogenesis of depression and action mechanisms of antidepressant effect (kynurenine hypothesis). Further research suggested the antidepressant and cognition- enhancing effects of post-serotonin metabolite, N-acetylserotonin (NAS), an agonist to tyrosine kinase B (TrkB) receptor; and link between depression and chronic inflammation-associated disorders (e.g., insulin resistance, hepatitis C virus) via inflammation-induced activation of indoleamine 2,3– dioxygenase, brain located rate-limiting enzyme of TRY – KYN metabolism. NAS and kynurenines might be the targets for prevention and treatment of depression and associated conditions.

Keywords: Depression, insulin resistance, interferon-gamma, kynurenine, N-acetylseroronin, neopterin, tryptophan, tyrosine kinase B receptor.

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Article Details

Year: 2013
Published on: 31 March, 2013
Page: [514 - 521]
Pages: 8
DOI: 10.2174/1389450111314050002
Price: $65

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