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Curr Drug Metab. 2018;19(10):883-890. doi: 10.2174/1389200219666180427164731.

Indoles - Gut Bacteria Metabolites of Tryptophan with Pharmacotherapeutic Potential.

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Department of Experimental Physiology and Pathophysiology, Laboratory of Centre for Preclinical Research, Medical University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland.



Increasing evidence proves the pivotal role of gut microbiota in mammals' homeostasis. Gut bacterial metabolites may exert local effects on the intestines, and may enter the circulation, affecting the functions of virtually all organs. Here, we review the available evidence on metabolism and biological effects of gut microbiota- derived indoles.


The PUBMED database and Google Scholar were searched to identify experimental and clinical studies investigating biological effects of gut bacteria-derived indoles. Key words included: gut microbiota, indoles, indole and tryptophan.


Indoles represent a wide group of gut bacteria-derived compounds produced from tryptophan, an essential amino acid and the precursor of endogenous synthesis of tryptamine, serotonin and melatonin. Ample evidence suggests that indoles derived from gut microbiota metabolism exert significant biological effects and may contribute to the etiology of cardiovascular, metabolic, and psychiatric diseases. However, a majority of the research is limited to experimental studies and only a small number of clinical trials.


Bacterial indoles affect the function of many biological systems. Whether gut-derived indoles contribute to pathogenesis of cardiovascular, metabolic and other diseases, requires further clinical studies.


Gut microbiota; indoles; indoxyl sulfate; serotonin; tryptophan.

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