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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Expression of the kynurenine pathway enzymes in human microglia and macrophages.

There is good evidence that the kynurenine pathway (KP) and one of its products, quinolinic acid (QUIN) play a role in the pathogenesis of neurological diseases. Monocytic cells are known to be the major producers of QUIN. However, macrophages have the ability to produce approximately 20 to 30-fold more QUIN than microglia. The molecular origin of this difference has not been clarified yet. Using unstimulated and IFN-gamma-stimulated cultures of human fcetal microglia and adult macrophages, we assayed mRNA expression of 8 key enzymes of the KP using RT-PCR and QUIN production using GC-MS. We found that after stimulation with IFN-gamma microglia produced de novo 20-fold less QUIN than macrophages. This quantitative difference in the ability to produce QUIN appears to be associated with a lower expression of 3 important enzymes of the KP in microglia: indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO), kynureninase (KYNase) and kynurenine hydroxylase (KYN(OH)ase). These results suggest that activated infiltrating macrophages are the most potent QUIN producers during brain inflammatory diseases with playing a lesser role.[1]


  1. Expression of the kynurenine pathway enzymes in human microglia and macrophages. Guillemin, G.J., Smith, D.G., Smythe, G.A., Armati, P.J., Brew, B.J. Adv. Exp. Med. Biol. (2003) [Pubmed]
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