• autoimmunity;
  • IDO1;
  • IDO2;
  • kynurenine;
  • tryptophan;
  • rheumatoid arthritis


Tryptophan is an essential amino acid which influences a wide range of physiological processes, including mood, cognition, and immunity. In the autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), the induction of tryptophan catabolism may help to diminish exacerbated immune responses. In this study, using collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) in DBA/1 mice which is an animal model of RA, the endogenous activity of the kynurenine pathway in the immune system was monitored before and after onset of the disease. An increased rate of the initiation of tryptophan catabolism via the kynurenine pathway throughout CIA has been observed. However, decreased tryptophan concentration in the lymph nodes from pre-arthritic mice was not enough to prevent development of CIA. In contrast, resolution of inflammation coincided with the decreased concentration of tryptophan and accumulation of its catabolites: kynurenine, anthranilic acid, and 3-hydroxyanthranilic acid in lymph nodes but not in the spleen. In addition, the lack of the accumulation of kynurenine and its downstream metabolites in the pre-arthritic lymph nodes coincided with increased mRNA expression for genes involved in the catabolism of kynurenine (Kynureninase, kynurenine 3-monooxygenase, and 3-hydroxyanthranilate 3,4 dioxygenase). However, in the lymph nodes from mice with established CIA, mRNA expression for these genes was normalized. Hence, keeping in mind an exploratory character of the results, it can be postulated that an anti-inflammatory role of the kynurenine pathway reaches its full potential only when decreased concentration of tryptophan coincides with accumulation of kynurenines driven by metabolic regulation of gene expression on the kynurenine pathway. © 2012 IUBMB IUBMB Life, 64(12): 983–987, 2012