Congratulations Dr. William Roth on the publication of “Tryptophan Metabolism and Gut-Brain Homeostasis”, in the February issue of International Journal of Molecular Science.
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid critical for protein synthesis in humans that has emerged as a key player in the microbiota-gut-brain axis. It is the only precursor for the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is vital for the processing of emotional regulation, hunger, sleep, and pain, as well as colonic motility and secretory activity in the gut. Tryptophan catabolites from the kynurenine degradation pathway also modulate neural activity and are active in the systemic inflammatory cascade. Additionally, tryptophan and its metabolites support the development of the central and enteric nervous systems. Accordingly, dysregulation of tryptophan metabolites plays a central role in the pathogenesis of many neurologic and psychiatric disorders. Gut microbes influence tryptophan metabolism directly and indirectly, with corresponding changes in behavior and cognition. The gut microbiome has thus garnered much attention as a therapeutic target for both neurologic and psychiatric disorders where tryptophan and its metabolites play a prominent role. In this review, we will touch upon some of these features and their involvement in health and disease.