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Kynurenine pathway metabolism following prenatal KMO inhibition and in Mecp2+/− mice, using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Caroline M. Forrest, Peter G. Kennedy, Jean Rodgers, R. Neil Dalton, Charles Turner, L. Gail Darlington, Stuart Cobb, Trevor W. Stone

Original languageEnglish
JournalNeurochemistry International
Early online date10 Sep 2016
Accepted/In press9 Sep 2016
E-pub ahead of print10 Sep 2016


King's Authors


To quantify the full range of tryptophan metabolites along the kynurenine pathway, a liquid chromatography – tandem mass spectrometry method was developed and used to analyse brain extracts of rodents treated with the kynurenine-3-mono-oxygenase (KMO) inhibitor Ro61-8048 during pregnancy. There were significant increases in the levels of kynurenine, kynurenic acid, anthranilic acid and 3-hydroxy-kynurenine (3-HK) in the maternal brain after 5 h but not 24 h, while the embryos exhibited high levels of kynurenine, kynurenic acid and anthranilic acid after 5 h which were maintained at 24 h post-treatment. At 24 h there was also a strong trend to an increase in quinolinic acid levels (P = 0.055). No significant changes were observed in any of the other kynurenine metabolites. The results confirm the marked increase in the accumulation of some neuroactive kynurenines when KMO is inhibited, and re-emphasise the potential importance of changes in anthranilic acid. The prolonged duration of metabolite accumulation in the embryo brains indicates a trapping of compounds within the embryonic CNS independently of maternal levels. When brains were examined from young mice heterozygous for the meCP2 gene – a potential model for Rett syndrome - no differences were noted from control mice, suggesting that the proposed roles for kynurenines in autism spectrum disorder are not relevant to Rett syndrome, supporting its recognition as a distinct, independent, condition.

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