Tryptophan is metabolized along the kynurenine pathway, initially to kynurenine, and subsequently to cytotoxic 3-hydroxykynurenine. There is increasing interest in this pathway because of its proinflammatory nature, and drugs interfering in it have received increasing attention. We aimed to investigate whether serum and urinary parameters of the tryptophan/kynurenine pathway, and particularly cytotoxic 3-hydroxykynurenine, are associated with systemic inflammation and long-term outcome in renal transplant recipients (RTR). Data were collected in outpatient RTR with a functioning graft for >1 yr. Tryptophan, kynurenine, and 3-hydroxykynurenine in serum and urine were measured using LC-MS/MS. A total of 561 RTR (age: 51 ± 12 yr; 56% male) were included at a median of 6.0 (2.6-11.6) yr posttransplantation. Baseline median serum tryptophan was 40.0 (34.5-46.0) µmol/l, serum kynurenine was 1.8 (1.4-2.2) µmol/l, and serum 3-hydroxykynurenine was 42.2 (31.0-61.7) nmol/l. Serum kynurenine and 3-hydroxykynurenine were strongly associated with parameters of systemic inflammation. During follow-up for 7.0 (6.2-7.5) yr, 51 RTR (9%) developed graft failure and 120 RTR (21%) died. Both serum kynurenine and 3-hydroxykynurenine were independently associated with graft failure [HR 1.72 (1.23-2.41), P = 0.002; and HR 2.03 (1.42-2.90), P < 0.001]. Serum 3-hydroxykynurenine was also independently associated with mortality [HR 1.37 (1.08-1.73), P = 0.01], whereas serum kynurenine was not. Urinary tryptophan/kynurenine pathway parameters were not associated with outcome. Of tryptophan metabolites, serum 3-hydroxykynurenine is cross-sectionally most strongly and consistently associated with systemic inflammation and prospectively with adverse long-term outcome after kidney transplantation. Serum 3-hydroxykynurenine may be an interesting biomarker and target for the evaluation of drugs interfering in the tryptophan/kynurenine pathway.
Keywords: 3-hydroxykynurenine; kidney transplantation; kynurenine; long-term outcome; systemic inflammation; tryptophan.
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