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Neuropharmacology. 2017 Jan;112(Pt B):275-285. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2016.03.001. Epub 2016 Mar 2.

Elevated kynurenine pathway metabolism during neurodevelopment: Implications for brain and behavior.

Author information

1
Maryland Psychiatric Research Center, Department of Psychiatry, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA.
2
Maryland Psychiatric Research Center, Department of Psychiatry, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA. Electronic address: apocivavsek@mprc.umaryland.edu.

Abstract

The kynurenine pathway (KP) of tryptophan degradation contains several neuroactive metabolites that may influence brain function in health and disease. Mounting focus has been dedicated to investigating the role of these metabolites during neurodevelopment and elucidating their involvement in the pathophysiology of psychiatric disorders with a developmental component, such as schizophrenia. In this review, we describe the changes in KP metabolism in the brain from gestation until adulthood and illustrate how environmental and genetic factors affect the KP during development. With a particular focus on kynurenic acid, the antagonist of α7 nicotinic acetylcholine (α7nACh) and N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptors, both implicated in modulating brain development, we review animal models designed to ascertain the role of perinatal KP elevation on long-lasting biochemical, neuropathological, and behavioral deficits later in life. We present new data demonstrating that combining perinatal choline-supplementation, to potentially increase activation of α7nACh receptors during development, with embryonic kynurenine manipulation is effective in attenuating cognitive impairments in adult rat offspring. With these findings in mind, we conclude the review by discussing the advancement of therapeutic interventions that would target not only symptoms, but potentially the root cause of central nervous system diseases that manifest from a perinatal KP insult. This article is part of the Special Issue entitled 'The Kynurenine Pathway in Health and Disease'.

KEYWORDS:

Alpha 7 nicotinic receptor; Choline; Cognition; Kynurenic acid; Schizophrenia

PMID:
26944732
PMCID:
PMC5010529
DOI:
10.1016/j.neuropharm.2016.03.001
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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