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Journal of Neural Transmission

, Volume 119, Issue 2, pp 197–209 | Cite as

The kynurenine system and immunoregulation

  • Yvette MándiEmail author
  • László Vécsei
Basic Neurosciences, Genetics and Immunology - Review article

Abstract

There is developing interest in the role of the kynurenines in the immune function. A considerable amount of evidence has accumulated as concerns interactions between the kynurenine pathway, cytokines and the nervous system. Indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) occupies a key position connecting the immune system and the kynurenine pathway. There are evidences of the immunosuppressive effect of IDO. Following the interferon (IFN)-mediated activation of antigen presenting cells, the induction of IDO and the kynurenine system exerts a counter-regulating effect, maintaining the homeostasis. Inhibition of T cell functions, activation of the regulatory T cells, and the inhibition of Natural Killer cells are among the important factors in the immunosuppressive effects of IDO and kynurenines. There is a close connection between cytokines (IFN-α, IFN-γ, TNF-α, TGF-β, IL-4 and IL-23) and the kynurenine system, and an imbalance in the TH1/TH2 cytokine profile may possibly lead to neurologic or psychiatric disorders. As the tryptophan metabolic pathway is activated by pro-inflammatory stimuli, the anti-inflammatory effect of kynurenic acid provides a further feedback mechanism in modulating the immune responses.

Keywords

Kynurenines IDO T cells NK cells Treg cells TH1 TH2 cytokines 

Abbreviations

IDO

Indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase

TRY

Tryptophan

KYN

Kynurenine

KYNA

Kynurenic acid

KMO

Kynurenine 3-monooxygenase

KH

KYN3-hydrolase

3-OH KYN

3-Hydroxykynurenine

KYNU

Kynureninase

3-HAA

3-Hydroxyanthranilic acid

HAAO

3-Hydroxyantranilate 3,4-dioxygenase

QUIN

Quinolinic acid

NMDA

N-methyl-d-aspartate

α7-nACh

α7-Nicotinic acethylcholine

NK cells

Natural killer cells

DC

Dendritic cell

Treg

Regulatory T cells

PMNs

Polymorphonuclear cells

IFN

Interferon

TNF-α

Tumor necrosis factor-α

TGF-β

Transforming growth factor-β

IL

Interleukin

IL-2

Interleukin-2

CSF

Cerebrospinal fluid

CNS

Central nervous system

5-HT

Serotonin

BBB

Blood brain barrier

HMGB1

High-mobility group box protein 1

HNP1-3

Human neutrophil peptide 1-3

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Medical Microbiology and ImmunobiologyUniversity of SzegedSzegedHungary
  2. 2.Department of NeurologyUniversity of SzegedSzegedHungary

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