• Advances in nutrition · May 2020


    Tryptophan Metabolism: A Link Between the Gut Microbiota and Brain.

    • Kan Gao, Chun-Long Mu, Aitak Farzi, and Wei-Yun Zhu.
    • Laboratory of Gastrointestinal Microbiology, Jiangsu Key Laboratory of Gastrointestinal Nutrition and Animal Health, College of Animal Science and Technology, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing, China.
    • Adv Nutr. 2020 May 1; 11 (3): 709-723.

    AbstractThe gut-brain axis (GBA) is a bilateral communication network between the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and the central nervous system. The essential amino acid tryptophan contributes to the normal growth and health of both animals and humans and, importantly, exerts modulatory functions at multiple levels of the GBA. Tryptophan is the sole precursor of serotonin, which is a key monoamine neurotransmitter participating in the modulation of central neurotransmission and enteric physiological function. In addition, tryptophan can be metabolized into kynurenine, tryptamine, and indole, thereby modulating neuroendocrine and intestinal immune responses. The gut microbial influence on tryptophan metabolism emerges as an important driving force in modulating tryptophan metabolism. Here, we focus on the potential role of tryptophan metabolism in the modulation of brain function by the gut microbiota. We start by outlining existing knowledge on tryptophan metabolism, including serotonin synthesis and degradation pathways of the host, and summarize recent advances in demonstrating the influence of the gut microbiota on tryptophan metabolism. The latest evidence revealing those mechanisms by which the gut microbiota modulates tryptophan metabolism, with subsequent effects on brain function, is reviewed. Finally, the potential modulation of intestinal tryptophan metabolism as a therapeutic option for brain and GI functional disorders is also discussed.Copyright © The Author(s) 2019.

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