Effects of Kynurenine Pathway Inhibition on NAD(+) Metabolism and Cell Viability in Human Primary Astrocytes and Neurons

Nady Braidy, Gilles J. Guillemin, Ross Grant*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Citations (Scopus)
11 Downloads (Pure)


The kynurenine pathway (KP) is the principle route of L-Tryptophan (TRP) metabolism, producing several neurotoxic and neuroprotective metabolic precursors before complete oxidation to the essential pyridine nucleotide nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD +). KP inhibition may prove therapeutic in central nervous system (CNS) inflammation by reducing the production of excitotoxins such as quinolinic acid (QUIN). However, KP metabolism may also be cytoprotective through the de novo synthesis of intracellular NAD +. We tested the hypothesis that the KP is directly involved in the maintenance of intracellular NAD + levels and SIRT1 function in primary astrocytes and neurons through regulation of NAD + synthesis. Competitive inhibition of indoleamine 2,3 dioxygenase (IDO), and quinolinic acid phosphoribosyltransferase (QPRT) activities with 1-methyl-L-Tryptophan (1-MT), and phthalic acid (PA) respectively, resulted in a dose-dependent decrease in intracellular NAD + levels and sirtuin deacetylase-1 (SIRT1) activity, and correlated directly with reduced cell viability. These results support the hypothesis that the primary role of KP activation during neuroinflammation is to maintain NAD + levels through de novo synthesis from TRP. Inhibition of KP metabolism under these conditions can compromise cell viability, NAD-dependent SIRT1 activity and CNS function, unless alternative precursors for NAD + synthesis are made available.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-37
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Tryptophan Research
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

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