Tryptophan Metabolism and Neurodegeneration: Longitudinal Associations of Kynurenine Pathway Metabolites with Cognitive Performance and Plasma Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias Biomarkers in the Duke Physical Performance Across the LifeSpan Study.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

BACKGROUND: The kynurenine pathway (KP) comprises a family of tryptophan-derived metabolites that some studies have reported are associated with poorer cognitive performance and an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease and related dementias (ADRD). OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to determine the associations of plasma KP metabolites (kynurenine [KYN], kynurenic acid [KA], and tryptophan [TRP]) with a panel of plasma ADRD biomarkers (Aβ42/ β40 ratio, pTau-181, glial fibrillary acidic protein [GFAP], and neurofilament light [NfL]) and cognitive performance in a subset of older adults drawn from the Duke Physical Performance Across the LifeSpan (PALS) study. METHODS: The Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) was used to assess cognitive performance. We used multivariate multiple regression to evaluate associations of the KYN/TRP and KA/KYN ratios with MoCA score and plasma ADRD biomarkers at baseline and over two years (n = 301; Age = 74.8±8.7). RESULTS: Over two years, an increasing KYN/TRP ratio was associated with increasing plasma concentrations of plasma p-Tau181 (β= 6.151; 95% CI [0.29, 12.01]; p = 0.040), GFAP (β= 11.12; 95% CI [1.73, 20.51]; p = 0.020), and NfL (β= 11.13; 95% CI [2.745, 19.52]; p = 0.009), but not MoCA score or the Aβ42/Aβ40 ratio. There were no significant associations of KA/KYN with MoCA score or plasma ADRD biomarkers. CONCLUSION: Our findings provide evidence that greater concentrations of KP metabolites are associated longitudinally over two years with greater biomarker evidence of neurofibrillary tau pathology (pTau-181), neuroinflammation (GFAP), and neurodegeneration (NfL), suggesting that dysregulated KP metabolism may play a role in ADRD pathogenesis.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Parker, DC; Kraus, WE; Whitson, HE; Kraus, VB; Smith, PJ; Cohen, HJ; Pieper, CF; Faldowski, RA; Hall, KS; Huebner, JL; Ilkayeva, OR; Bain, JR; Newby, LK; Huffman, KM

Published Date

  • 2023

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 91 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 1141 - 1150

PubMed ID

  • 36565121

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC10074831

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1875-8908

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.3233/JAD-220906


  • eng

Conference Location

  • Netherlands