Several lines of evidence support the hypothesis that abnormally elevated brain levels of kynurenic acid (KYNA), a metabolite of the kynurenine pathway (KP) of tryptophan degradation, play a pathophysiologically significant role in schizophrenia and other major neurodevelopmental disorders. Studies in experimental animal models suggest that KP impairments in these diseases may originate already in utero since prenatal administration of KYNA's bioprecursor, kynurenine, leads to biochemical and structural abnormalities as well as distinct cognitive impairments in adulthood. As KP metabolism during pregnancy is still insufficiently understood, we designed this study to examine the de novo synthesis of KYNA and 3-hydroxykynurenine (3-HK), an alternative biologically active product of kynurenine degradation, in tissue slices obtained from pregnant mice on gestational day (GD) 18. Fetal brain and liver, placenta, and maternal brain and liver were collected, and the tissues were incubated in vitroin the absence or presence of micromolar concentrations of kynurenine. KYNA and 3-HK were measured in the extracellular milieu. Basal and newly produced KYNA was detected in all cases. As KYNA formation exceeded 3-HK production by 2-3 orders of magnitude in the placenta and maternal brain, and as very little 3-HK neosynthesis was detectable in fetal brain tissue, detailed follow-up experiments focused on KYNA only. The fetal brain produced 3-4 times more KYNA than the maternal brain and placenta, though less than the maternal and fetal liver. No significant differences were observed when using tissues obtained on GD 14 and GD 18. Pharmacological inhibition of KYNA's main biosynthetic enzymes, kynurenine aminotransferase (KAT) I and KAT II, revealed qualitative and quantitative differences between the tissues, with a preferential role of KAT I in the fetal and maternal brain and of KAT II in the fetal and maternal liver. Findings using tissue slices from KAT II knockout mice confirmed these conclusions. Together, these results clarify the dynamics of KP metabolism during pregnancy and provide the basis for the conceptualization of interventions aimed at manipulating cerebral KP function in the prenatal period.

Assessment of Prenatal Kynurenine Metabolism Using Tissue Slices: Focus on the Neosynthesis of Kynurenic Acid in Mice

Beggiato S.;
2019-01-01

Abstract

Several lines of evidence support the hypothesis that abnormally elevated brain levels of kynurenic acid (KYNA), a metabolite of the kynurenine pathway (KP) of tryptophan degradation, play a pathophysiologically significant role in schizophrenia and other major neurodevelopmental disorders. Studies in experimental animal models suggest that KP impairments in these diseases may originate already in utero since prenatal administration of KYNA's bioprecursor, kynurenine, leads to biochemical and structural abnormalities as well as distinct cognitive impairments in adulthood. As KP metabolism during pregnancy is still insufficiently understood, we designed this study to examine the de novo synthesis of KYNA and 3-hydroxykynurenine (3-HK), an alternative biologically active product of kynurenine degradation, in tissue slices obtained from pregnant mice on gestational day (GD) 18. Fetal brain and liver, placenta, and maternal brain and liver were collected, and the tissues were incubated in vitroin the absence or presence of micromolar concentrations of kynurenine. KYNA and 3-HK were measured in the extracellular milieu. Basal and newly produced KYNA was detected in all cases. As KYNA formation exceeded 3-HK production by 2-3 orders of magnitude in the placenta and maternal brain, and as very little 3-HK neosynthesis was detectable in fetal brain tissue, detailed follow-up experiments focused on KYNA only. The fetal brain produced 3-4 times more KYNA than the maternal brain and placenta, though less than the maternal and fetal liver. No significant differences were observed when using tissues obtained on GD 14 and GD 18. Pharmacological inhibition of KYNA's main biosynthetic enzymes, kynurenine aminotransferase (KAT) I and KAT II, revealed qualitative and quantitative differences between the tissues, with a preferential role of KAT I in the fetal and maternal brain and of KAT II in the fetal and maternal liver. Findings using tissue slices from KAT II knockout mice confirmed these conclusions. Together, these results clarify the dynamics of KP metabolism during pregnancy and provide the basis for the conceptualization of interventions aimed at manipulating cerebral KP function in the prenatal period.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11564/725288
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