Tryptophan degradation in autoimmune diseases
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Recent evidence points to tryptophan (Trp) degradation as a potent immunosuppressive mechanism involved in the maintenance of immunological tolerance. Both Trp depletion and downstream Trp catabolites (TCs) appear to synergistically confer protection against excessive inflammation. In this review, we give an overview of the immunosuppressive properties of Trp degradation with special focus on TCs. Constitutive and inducible Trp degradation in different cell types and tissues of human and murine origin is summarized. We address the influence of Trp degradation on different aspects of autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis. Possible therapeutic approaches for autoimmune disorders targeting Trp degradation are presented, and key issues relevant for the development of such therapeutic strategies are discussed.