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Current Pharmaceutical Design


ISSN (Print): 1381-6128
ISSN (Online): 1873-4286

The Many Neuroprogressive Actions of Tryptophan Catabolites (TRYCATs) that may be Associated with the Pathophysiology of Neuro-Immune Disorders

Author(s): Gerwyn Morris, André F. Carvalho, George Anderson, Piotr Galecki and Michael Maes

Volume 22, Issue 8, 2016

Page: [963 - 977] Pages: 15

DOI: 10.2174/1381612822666151215102420

Price: $65


Many, if not all, chronic medical, neurodegenerative and neuroprogressive illnesses are characterised by chronic immune activation, oxidative and nitrosative stress (O&NS) and systemic inflammation. These factors, notably elevated pro-inflammatory cytokines, activate indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) leading to an upregulated tryptophan catabolite (TRYCAT) pathway of tryptophan degradation in the periphery and in the brain. In such conditions the TRYCAT pathway becomes the predominant system for tryptophan degradation in all body compartments. In this paper we review the pathways whereby TRYCATs may play a role in neuro-inflammatory and neuroprogressive disease. Thus chronic activation of the TRYCAT pathway leads to the production of a range of neuroactive, neuroprotective and neurotoxic TRYCATs. Some TRYCATs such as quinolinic acid act as potent neurotoxins which inhibit ATP production by mitochondria, provoke increases in O&NS, disrupt neuron glial communication and blood brain barrier integrity, induce apoptosis of glial cells, directly damage neurons and function as a N-methyl D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor agonist. Other TRYCATs such as kynurenic acid function as antagonists of NMDA, - amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid and kainate receptors and act to regulate levels of glutamate and dopamine. The neuroprotective functions of this TRYCAT are likely exercised via engagement with alpha7 nicotinic acetylcholine and aryl hydrocarbon receptors but the neuroprotective effects stemming from elevated kynurenic acid levels come at the price of severely compromised neurocognitive function and emotional processing. Other TRYCATS also possess neurotoxic or neuroprotective properties via pro-oxidant and antioxidant effects. Here we discuss the involvement of the abovementioned TRYCAT pathways in schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease and chronic fatigue syndrome.

Keywords: Schizophrenia, chronic fatigue, inflammation, immune, oxidative and nitrosative stress, leaky gut.

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