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Curr Top Behav Neurosci. 2017;31:95-115. doi: 10.1007/7854_2016_23.

Mechanisms of Inflammation-Associated Depression: Immune Influences on Tryptophan and Phenylalanine Metabolisms.

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Division of Medical Biochemistry, Biocenter, Innsbruck Medical University, Innsbruck, Austria.
Department of Biological Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Innsbruck Medical University, Innsbruck, Austria.
Division of Biological Chemistry, Biocenter, Innsbruck Medical University, Innrain 80, Innsbruck, Austria.


Metabolic parameters have a direct role in the regulation of immune cell function. Thereby the inflammation-induced metabolism of aromatic amino acids, most importantly of tryptophan and phenylalanine, plays a central role. In addition, neuropsychiatric conditions that go along with disorders that are characterized by acute or chronic inflammation, such as the development of depression, decreased quality of life or cognitive impairments, are connected to disturbed amino acid and subsequent neurotransmitter metabolism.The bioanalytical procedures for the determination of concentrations of tryptophan and phenylalanine and their respective first stable intermediates kynurenine and tyrosine as well as some analytical finesses and potential sources of errors are discussed in this chapter. Monitoring of these immunometabolic parameters throughout therapies in addition to biomarkers of immune response and inflammation such as neopterin can be useful to determine disease progression but also to plan psychiatric interventions timely, thus to establish personalized treatments.


Indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO-1); Kynurenine; Neopterin; Phenylalanine; Tryptophan; Tyrosine

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