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Adv Exp Med Biol. 1999;467:525-31.

Importance of L-tryptophan metabolism in trypanosomiasis.

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Laboratoire de Parasitologie, Université de Bordeaux II, France.


African trypanosomiasis or sleeping sickness is caused by extracellular trypanosomes. The presence of seric antibodies directed to a tryptophan-like epitope in trypanosome infected patients and animals led us to investigate the roles of tryptophan in trypanosomiasis. These antibodies are directed against a tryptophan-rich conserved sequence inside the major parasite surface glycoprotein. In vitro, a rapid uptake of tryptophan by trypanosomes is measured. Seric tryptophan levels are decreased during trypanosomiasis. This decrease may be linked with an increase in indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) induced by Interferon-gamma. In vivo inhibition of IDO by norharman provokes a dramatic increase in circulating parasite number. All these data show the essential role of tryptophan in parasite growth. Moreover, antibodies against tryptophan, the decreased concentration of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain following infection and the tryptophan metabolites (tryptophol) produced by trypanosomes may participate to the pathophysiological mechanisms provoking sleeping sickness.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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