Immune activation and inflammation in patients with cardiovascular disease are associated with higher phenylalanine to tyrosine ratios: the ludwigshafen risk and cardiovascular health study

J Amino Acids. 2014;2014:783730. doi: 10.1155/2014/783730. Epub 2014 Feb 10.


Higher serum neopterin is associated with increased mortality in patients with coronary artery disease (CAD). Preferentially Th1-type cytokine interferon- γ stimulates neopterin production by GTP cychlohydrolase I (GCH-I) in parallel in monocyte-derived macrophages and dendritic cells. In other cells, activation of GCH-I leads to the formation of 5,6,7,8-tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4), the necessary cofactor of amino acid hydroxylases like phenylalanine 4-hydroxylase (PAH). Serum concentrations of phenylalanine, tyrosine, neopterin, and high sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) were measured in 1196 patients derived from the LUdwigshafen RIsk and Cardiovascular Health (LURIC) study, a cohort study among patients referred for coronary angiography. The phenylalanine to tyrosine ratio (Phe/Tyr) served as an estimate of phenylalanine hydroxylase (PAH) enzyme activity. Serum concentrations of phenylalanine and tyrosine and of Phe/Tyr did not differ between individuals with or without CAD (Welch's t-test: P = n.s.). Higher neopterin and hsCRP concentrations were observed in CAD patients compared to controls (P < 0.0001) and they correlated with Phe/Tyr (Spearman's rank correlation for neopterin: r s = 0.216 and hsCRP: r s = 0.122; both of P < 0.0001) concentrations. In conclusion, immune activation is associated with higher Phe/Tyr in CAD patients. Data indicates subnormal PAH activity which might be involved in the precipitation of neuropsychiatric symptoms in patients.