Substrate product ratios of enzymes in the kynurenine pathway measured in plasma as indicators of functional vitamin B-6 status

Arve Ulvik*, Despoina Theofylaktopoulou, Oivind Midttun, Ottar Nygard, Simone J. P. M. Eussen, Per M. Ueland

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Tryptophan metabolism through the kynurenine pathway includes 2 vitamin B-6 [pyridoxal 5'-phosphate (PLP)]-dependent enzymes. We recently showed that plasma 3-hydroxykynurenine (HK) was elevated at low PLP concentrations. Objective: We further evaluated and characterized kynurenine-based indexes as possible markers of functional B-vitamin status in plasma. Design: Cross-sectional and longitudinal data were derived from the Western Norway B-vitamin Intervention Trial, including PLP, kynurenine, HK, kynurenic acid (KA), anthranilic acid, xanthurenic acid (XA), and 3-hydroxyanthranilic acid (HAA) measured in plasma at 2 time points. Partial Spearman's correlation, generalized additive models, and receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis were used to assess associations of kynurenines with PLP. Results: Ratios HK: XA, HK: HAA, and HK: KA showed markedly stronger negative correlations with PLP than did HK alone (Spearman's rho = -0.36, -0.29, and -0.31 compared with -0.18, respectively). All associations were nonlinear, with the strongest relation at low PLP. In the ROC analysis, areas under the curve for discriminating low PLP (less than the fifth percentile; 18.6 nmol/L) were 0.78, 0.78, and 0.74, respectively, compared with 0.65 for HK. Oral treatment with 40 mg pyridoxin hydrochloride for 28 d reduced the ratios by up to 60%, with strongest reductions for subjects with low plasma PLP at baseline. Whereas HK was associated with kidney function and several inflammatory markers, such associations were abolished or attenuated for the ratios. Conclusion: Plasma values of HK: XA and HK: HAA, which are substrate-product pairs for kynurenine transaminase and kynureninase, respectively, may reflect the intracellular availability of the cofactor (PLP) and, therefore, present as potential markers of functional vitamin B-6 status.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)934-940
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013


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