Kynurenines in the Pathogenesis of Multiple Sclerosis: Therapeutic Perspectives

Tamás Biernacki, Dániel Sandi, Krisztina Bencsik, László Vécsei

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


Over the past years, an increasing amount of evidence has emerged in support of the kynurenine pathway's (KP) pivotal role in the pathogenesis of several neurodegenerative, psychiatric, vascular and autoimmune diseases. Different neuroactive metabolites of the KP are known to exert opposite effects on neurons, some being neuroprotective (e.g., picolinic acid, kynurenic acid, and the cofactor nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide), while others are toxic to neurons (e.g., 3-hydroxykynurenine, quinolinic acid). Not only the alterations in the levels of the metabolites but also disturbances in their ratio (quinolinic acid/kynurenic acid) have been reported in several diseases. In addition to the metabolites, the enzymes participating in the KP have been unearthed to be involved in modulation of the immune system, the energetic upkeep of neurons and have been shown to influence redox processes and inflammatory cascades, revealing a sophisticated, intertwined system. This review considers various methods through which enzymes and metabolites of the kynurenine pathway influence the immune system, the roles they play in the pathogenesis of neuroinflammatory diseases based on current evidence with a focus on their involvement in multiple sclerosis, as well as therapeutic approaches.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 26 2020


  • IDO
  • N-acetylserotonin
  • NAD+, multiple sclerosis
  • kynurenic acid
  • kynurenine pathway
  • laquinimod
  • oxidative stress
  • quinolinic acid

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