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J Neuroinflammation. 2020 Feb 15;17(1):56. doi: 10.1186/s12974-020-1721-z.

Effects of inflammation on the kynurenine pathway in schizophrenia - a systematic review.

Author information

1
Center of Psychiatry, Justus-Liebig University, Klinikstrasse 36, Giessen, 35392, Hessen, Germany. Bruno.Pedraz@med.uni-giessen.de.
2
Giessen Graduate School for Life Sciences, Justus-Liebig University, Leihgesterner Weg 52, Giessen, 35392, Hessen, Germany. Bruno.Pedraz@med.uni-giessen.de.
3
Center of Psychiatry, Justus-Liebig University, Klinikstrasse 36, Giessen, 35392, Hessen, Germany.
4
Alexandria University, 22 El-Guish Road, Alexandria, 21526, Alexandria, Egypt.
5
Collaborative Research Center 936 (SFB936) - Project C6 - Third Funding Period, Justus-Liebig University, Klinikstrasse 36, Giessen, 35392, Hessen, Germany.
6
Institute of Veterinary Physiology and Biochemistry, Justus-Liebig University, Frankfurter Strasse 100, Giessen, 35392, Hessen, Germany.
7
Center for Mind, Brain and Behavior (CMBB), Hans-Meerwein-Strasse 6, Marburg, 35043, Hessen, Germany.
8
Giessen Graduate School for Life Sciences, Justus-Liebig University, Leihgesterner Weg 52, Giessen, 35392, Hessen, Germany.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

In the last decade, there has been growing evidence that an interaction exists between inflammation and the kynurenine pathway in schizophrenia. Additionally, many authors found microglial activation in cases of schizophrenia due to inflammatory mechanisms related mostly to an increase of pro-inflammatory cytokines. In order to gain new insights into the pathophysiology of schizophrenia, it is important to incorporate the latest published evidence concerning inflammatory mechanisms and kynurenine metabolism. This systematic review aims to collect reliable recent findings within the last decade supporting such a theory.

METHODS:

A structured search of electronic databases was conducted for publications between 2008 and 2018 to identify eligible studies investigating patients with schizophrenia/psychosis and the relationship between inflammation and kynurenine pathway. Applicable studies were systematically scored using the NIH Quality Assessment Tools. Two researchers independently extracted data on diagnosis (psychosis/schizophrenia), inflammation, and kynurenine/tryptophan metabolites.

RESULTS:

Ten eligible articles were identified where seven studies assessed blood samples and three assessed cerebrospinal fluid in schizophrenic patients. Of these articles: Four investigated the relationship between immunoglobulins and the kynurenine pathway and found correlations between IgA-mediated responses and levels of tryptophan metabolites (i.e., kynurenine pathway).Five examined the correlation between cytokines and kynurenine metabolites where three showed a relationship between elevated IL-6, TNF-α concentrations, and the kynurenine pathway.Only one study discovered correlations between IL-8 and the kynurenine pathway.Two studies showed correlations with lower concentrations of IL-4 and the kynurenine pathway.Moreover, this systematic review did not find a significant correlation between CRP (n = 1 study), IFN-γ (n = 3 studies), and the kynurenine pathway in schizophrenia.

INTERPRETATION:

These results emphasize how different inflammatory markers can unbalance the tryptophan/kynurenine pathway in schizophrenia. Several tryptophan/kynurenine pathway metabolites are produced which can, in turn, underlie different psychotic and cognitive symptoms via neurotransmission modulation. However, due to heterogeneity and the shortage of eligible articles, they do not robustly converge to the same findings. Hence, we recommend further studies with larger sample sizes to elucidate the possible interactions between the various markers, their blood vs. CSF ratios, and their correlation with schizophrenia symptoms.

KEYWORDS:

Glutamic acid; Inflammation; Kynurenic acid; Kynurenine; Schizophrenia

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