Impaired Kynurenine Pathway Metabolism in The Prefrontal Cortex of Individuals With Schizophrenia

Maryland Psychiatric Research Center, Baltimore, MD, USA.
Schizophrenia Bulletin (Impact Factor: 8.45). 10/2010; 37(6):1147-56. DOI: 10.1093/schbul/sbq112
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The levels of kynurenic acid (KYNA), an astrocyte-derived metabolite of the branched kynurenine pathway (KP) of tryptophan degradation and antagonist of α7 nicotinic acetylcholine and N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors, are elevated in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) of individuals with schizophrenia (SZ). Because endogenous KYNA modulates extracellular glutamate and acetylcholine levels in the PFC, these increases may be pathophysiologically significant. Using brain tissue from SZ patients and matched controls, we now measured the activity of several KP enzymes (kynurenine 3-monooxygenase [KMO], kynureninase, 3-hydroxyanthranilic acid dioxygenase [3-HAO], quinolinic acid phosphoribosyltransferase [QPRT], and kynurenine aminotransferase II [KAT II]) in the PFC, ie, Brodmann areas (BA) 9 and 10. Compared with controls, the activities of KMO (in BA 9 and 10) and 3-HAO (in BA 9) were significantly reduced in SZ, though there were no significant differences between patients and controls in kynureninase, QPRT, and KAT II. In the same samples, we also confirmed the increase in the tissue levels of KYNA in SZ. As examined in rats treated chronically with the antipsychotic drug risperidone, the observed biochemical changes were not secondary to medication. A persistent reduction in KMO activity may have a particular bearing on pathology because it may signify a shift of KP metabolism toward enhanced KYNA synthesis. The present results further support the hypothesis that the normalization of cortical KP metabolism may constitute an effective new treatment strategy in SZ.

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    • "The previous enzyme inhibition results should apply to situations in which there is a temporary reduction in enzyme activity caused either by reduced immune system induction or the presence of an external inhibitory compound originating in the environment or polypharmaceutical treatment. Genetic deletion should reproduce the situation in which there is a permanent loss of enzyme protein or enzyme activity (Sathyasaikumar et al., 2011) such as that occasioned by single nucleotide polymorphisms (Holtze et al., 2012; Wonodi et al., 2011, 2014). Both models may, therefore, have clinical relevance. "
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    ABSTRACT: Glutamate receptors sensitive to N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) are involved in embryonic brain development but their activity may be modulated by the kynurenine pathway of tryptophan metabolism which includes an agonist (quinolinic acid) and an antagonist (kynurenic acid) at these receptors. Our previous work has shown that prenatal inhibition of the pathway produces abnormalities of brain development. In the present study kynurenine and probenecid (both 100mg/kg, doses known to increase kynurenic acid levels in the brain) were administered to female Wistar rats on embryonic days E14, E16 and E18 of gestation and the litter was allowed to develop to post-natal day P60. Western blotting revealed no changes in hippocampal expression of several proteins previously found to be altered by inhibition of the kynurenine pathway including the NMDA receptor subunits GluN1, GluN2A and GluN2B, as well as doublecortin, Proliferating Cell Nuclear Antigen (PCNA), sonic hedgehog and unco-ordinated (unc)-5H1 and 5H3. Mice lacking the enzyme kynurenine-3-monoxygenase (KMO) also showed no changes in hippocampal expression of several of these proteins or the 70kDa and 100kDa variants of Disrupted in Schizophrenia-1 (DISC1). Electrical excitability of pyramidal neurons in the CA1 region of hippocampal slices was unchanged, as was paired-pulse facilitation and inhibition. Long-term potentiation was decreased in the kynurenine-treated rats and in the KMO(-/-) mice, but galantamine reversed this effect in the presence of nicotinic receptor antagonists, consistent with evidence that it can potentiate glutamate at NMDA receptors. It is concluded that interference with the kynurenine pathway in utero can have lasting effects on brain function of the offspring, implying that the kynurenine pathway is involved in the regulation of early brain development.
    Neuroscience 09/2015; 310. DOI:10.1016/j.neuroscience.2015.09.022 · 3.36 Impact Factor
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    • "Alterations in the KP pathway have been described in a number of psychiatric conditions, including schizophrenia (Erhardt et al., 2001; Nilsson et al., 2005), bipolar disorder (Olsson et al., 2012) and suicidality (Bay-Richter et al., 2015; Erhardt et al., 2013), but also in neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer's (AD), Parkinson's, Huntington's (HD) diseases and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) (Schwarcz et al., 2012). Thus, in psychosis, KYNA and its precursor KYN are increased in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and post mortem brain tissue (Erhardt et al., 2001; Sathyasaikumar et al., 2011; Schwarcz et al., 2001). In suicide attempters, often suffering from major depression, increased CSF levels of QUIN have been observed (Bay-Richter et al., 2015; Erhardt et al., 2013). "
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    ABSTRACT: Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic inflammatory and neurodegenerative disease of the central nervous system, with a high rate of neurocognitive symptoms for which the molecular background is still uncertain. There is accumulating evidence for dysregulation of the kynurenine pathway (KP) in different psychiatric and neurodegenerative conditions. We here report the first comprehensive analysis of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) kynurenine metabolites in MS patients of different disease stages and in relation to neurocognitive symptoms.
    Brain Behavior and Immunity 07/2015; DOI:10.1016/j.bbi.2015.07.016 · 5.89 Impact Factor
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    • "A nonsynonymous single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in the KMO gene has been shown to affect the CSF KYNA levels in patients with schizophrenia39 and bipolar disorder.8 In addition, the activity7 and expression8 of the KMO enzyme was found to be reduced in prefrontal cortex in patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder patients with psychosis. Furthermore, a recent study suggests that the function of other enzymes in the pathway is worth investigating as well. "
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    ABSTRACT: Several studies suggest a role for kynurenic acid (KYNA) in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. It has been proposed that increased brain KYNA levels in schizophrenia result from a pathological shift in the kynurenine pathway toward enhanced KYNA formation, away from the other branch of the pathway leading to quinolinic acid (QUIN). Here we investigate the levels of QUIN in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of patients with schizophrenia and healthy controls, and relate those to CSF levels of KYNA and other kynurenine metabolites from the same individuals. CSF QUIN levels from stable outpatients treated with olanzapine (n = 22) and those of controls (n = 26) were analyzed using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. No difference in CSF QUIN levels between patients and controls was observed (20.6 ± 1.5 nM vs. 18.2 ± 1.1 nM, P = 0.36). CSF QUIN was positively correlated to CSF kynurenine and CSF KYNA in patients but not in controls. The CSF QUIN/KYNA ratio was lower in patients than in controls (P = 0.027). In summary, the present study offers support for an over-activated and imbalanced kynurenine pathway, favoring the production of KYNA over QUIN in patients with schizophrenia.
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