Send to

Choose Destination
Neuroscience. 1994 Jul;61(2):237-43.

Inhibitors of kynurenine hydroxylase and kynureninase increase cerebral formation of kynurenate and have sedative and anticonvulsant activities.

Author information

Department of Preclinical and Clinical Pharmacology, University of Florence, Italy.


Kynurenate is an endogenous antagonist of the ionotropic glutamate receptors. It is synthesized from kynurenine, a tryptophan metabolite, and a significant increase in its brain concentration could be useful in pathological situations. We attempted to increase its neosynthesis by modifying kynurenine catabolism. Several kynurenine analogues were synthesized and tested as inhibitors of kynurenine hydroxylase (E.C. and of kynureninase (E.C., the two enzymes which catalyse the conversion of kynurenine to excitotoxin quinolinate. Among these analogues we observed that nicotinylalanine, a compound whose pharmacological properties have previously been reported, had an IC50 of 900 +/- 180 microM as inhibitor of kynurenine hydroxylase and of 800 +/- 120 microM as inhibitor of kynureninase. In the search for more potent molecules we noticed that meta-nitrobenzoylalanine had an IC50 of 0.9 +/- 0.1 microM as inhibitor of kynurenine hydroxylase and of 100 +/- 12 microM as inhibitor of kynureninase. When administered to rats meta-nitrobenzoylalanine (400 mg/kg) significantly increased the concentration of kynurenine (up to 10 times) and kynurenate (up to five times) in the brain. Similar results were obtained in the blood and in the liver. Furthermore meta-nitrobenzoylalanine increased in a dose dependent, long lasting (up to 13 times and up to 4 h) manner the concentration of kynurenate in the hippocampal extracellular fluid, as evaluated with a microdialysis technique. This increase was associated with a decrease in the locomotor activity and with protection from maximal electroshock-induced seizures in rats or from audiogenic seizures in DBA/2 mice. The conclusions drawn from the present study are: (i) meta-nitrobenzoylalanine is a potent inhibitor of kynurenine hydroxylase also affecting kynureninase; (ii) the inhibition of these enzymes causes a significant increase in the brain extracellular concentration of kynurenate; (iii) this increase is associated with sedative and anticonvulsant actions, suggesting a functional antagonism of the excitatory amino acid receptors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center