Author(s): Baran H, Cairns N, Lubec B, Lubec G
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Abstract Excitatory amino acid (EAA) receptors are central to brain physiology and play important roles in learning and memory processes. Kynurenic acid (KYNA), a metabolite of tryptophan in the brain blocks all three classical ionotropic EAA receptors and also serves as an antagonist at the glycine site associated with the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDA) complex. We measured the endogenous levels of KYNA and activities of KYNA synthesizing enzymes kynurenine aminotransferase I (KAT I) and kynurenine aminotransferase II (KAT II) in the frontal and temporal cortex of elderly Down syndrome (DS) patients (aged 46-69 years). Compared with control specimens (0.21 +/- 0.06 pmol/mg tissue), the measurement of KYNA content revealed a significant 3-fold increase in frontal cortex of DS patients (0.67 +/- 0.13 pmol/mg tissue; p < or = 0.01). In temporal cortex KYNA levels were increased by 151\% (p < or = 0.05) of control (0.41 +/- 0.09 pmol/mg tissue) Using crude cell free homogenate KAT's activities were determined in the presence of the 1 mM 2-oxoacid as a co-substrate at their pH optima of 10.0 for KAT I and 7.4 for KAT II. KATs activities in the presence of 1 mM pyruvate were 2.79 +/- 0.52 and 4.55 +/- 1.98 pmol/mg protein/h for KAT I and 0.98 +/- 0.07 and 1.09 +/- 0.14 pmol/mg protein/h for KAT II in frontal cortex and temporal cortex, respectively. When compared with the brain samples of controls the activity of KAT I was reduced in frontal cortex (9.8 +/- 2.4\%; p < or = 0.01) and temporal cortex (25.8 +/- 6.4 \%) of DS patients, while KAT II levels were within the normal range. Measurement of the neuronal, cholinergic marker choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) in the frontal cortex, revealed a significant reduction (36.6 +/- 4.3\% of control; p < or = 0.01) in DS. Our data demonstrate the involvement of KYNA-metabolism in the cellular mechanisms underlying altered cognitive function in patients with DS. Although the localisation of both, KAT I and KAT II is not stated yet the reduction of KAT I may suggest impairment of KYNA metabolism in neuronal and/or nonneuronal compartments.
This article was published in Life Sci
and referenced in International Journal of Neurorehabilitation