Grey and white matter structure associates with the activation of the tryptophan to kynurenine pathway in bipolar disorder: Journal of Affective Disorders

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Abstract

Background: Bipolar disorder (BD) is a severe mental illness characterised by reduced grey matter (GM) volumes and cortical thickness, and disrupted white matter (WM) microstructure. Activation of indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase following a pro-inflammatory state could increase the amount of tryptophan (Trp) converted to kynurenine (Kyn) possibly leading to the production of detrimental catabolites of the Kyn pathway with neurotoxic effects. We investigated if peripheral levels of Trp-and Kyn and the breakdown of Trp-into Kyn (Kyn/Trp-ratio) are related to WM and GM integrity in BD. Methods: Peripheral levels of Trp-and Kyn were analysed in 72 patients with BD and 33 controls. Patients also underwent MRI in a Philips 3T scanner. Results: Patients showed higher Kyn levels and Kyn/Trp-ratio compared to controls. MRI analyses performed in patients with BD showed a negative association between the Kyn/Trp-ratio and the integrity of corpus callosum microstructure, the volume of the amygdala and cortical thickness in fronto-parietal regions. Limitation: The lack of information on the levels of downstream metabolites of Kyn prevent us to confirm the possible unbalance between quinolinic and kynurenic acids as well as their possible relationship with changes in GM and WM markers. The activation of the Kyn pathway as suggested by the increased Kyn/Trp-ratio may lead to an imbalance of the neurotoxic vs the neuroprotective arm of the biochemical pathway, resulting in significant changes in GM and WM regions of brain areas strongly implicated in the pathophysiology of BD, such as amygdala and corpus callosum. © 2019
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)404-412
Number of pages9
JournalJ. Affective Disord.
Volume259
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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