Metabolome analysis reveals the association between the kynurenine pathway and human herpesvirus 6 encephalopathy in immunocompetent children

Yuka Torii, Yoshihiko Kawano, Hajime Sato, Tamaki Fujimori, Kazunori Sasaki, Jun-ichi Kawada, Osamu Takikawa, Chai K. Lim, Gilles J. Guillemin, Yoshiaki Ohashi, Yoshinori Ito*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    3 Citations (Scopus)


    Introduction: Human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) is the second most common causative pathogen of acute encephalopathy in immunocompetent children in Japan. Identification of biomarkers associated the pathophysiology is desirable to monitor disease severity, progression, and prognosis. Objectives: To investigate potential biomarkers for HHV-6 encephalopathy, serum metabolome profiling was analyzed and candidate metabolites were investigated the function in the diseases. Methods: Pediatric patients with HHV-6 encephalopathy (n = 8), febrile seizure (n = 20), and febrile infection without febrile seizure (n = 7) were enrolled in this study, and serum metabolites were identified and quantified. For further analysis, serum samples of HHV-6 infected patients were analyzed by absolute quantification assay for kynurenine (KYN) and quinolinic acid (QUIN) in a total of 38 patients with or without encephalopathy. An in vitro blood–brain barrier (BBB) model was used to evaluate the effect of KYN and QUIN on BBB integrity because BBB damage induces brain edema. Results: Metabolome profiling identified 159 metabolites in serum samples. The levels of KYN and QUIN, which belong to the tryptophan-KYN pathway, were significantly higher in the HHV-6 encephalopathy group than the other two groups. When quantified in the larger patient group, remarkably high levels of KYN and QUIN were observed exclusively in the encephalopathy group. Trans-endothelial electrical resistance of the BBB model was significantly decreased after QUIN treatment in culture. Conclusion: Metabolome analysis revealed that KYN and QUIN may be associated with the pathophysiology of HHV-6 encephalopathy. In particular, QUIN may damage BBB integrity.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number126
    Pages (from-to)1-10
    Number of pages10
    Issue number11
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017


    • encephalopathy
    • human herpesvirus 6
    • kynurenine
    • quinolinic acid
    • serum


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