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Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2018 Feb;30(2). doi: 10.1111/nmo.13283.

Beneficial actions of microbiota-derived tryptophan metabolites.

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Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology and the Neuroscience Program, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA.


Tryptophan is an important dietary amino acid and it is the precursor for 5-hydroxytryptamine synthesis in the nervous system and by enterochromaffin cells in the gut mucosa. Tryptophan is also metabolized by enzymes in the gut mucosa and also by enzymes produced by the gut microbiome. Diet and the microbiome can contribute to metabolic disease in part by causing intestinal inflammation and increased permeability. In this issue of Neurogastroenterology and Motility, Jennis et al. test the hypothesis that indole tryptophan metabolites produced by gut bacteria might be responsible for the anti-inflammatory and beneficial metabolic effects of the gut microbiome and Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery for weight loss by obese patients. The authors identified indole-3-propionic acid as the beneficial metabolite. A review of the literature also revealed the beneficial effects of tryptophan metabolites on diabetes and metabolic disease and on inflammatory bowel disease. Taken together, these data highlight another health benefit of the intestinal microbiome, which produces beneficial products from dietary amino acids especially tryptophan.


Type 2 diabetes; gut microbiome; indole-3-proprionic acid; obesity; tryptophan metabolism

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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