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Accumulating data presented that tryptophan metabolic pathway (TMP) may play a role in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). However, no study have investigated potential role of TMP in disruptive behavior disorders coexisting with ADHD. This study compared serum levels of tryptophan, kynurenine, kynurenic acid, 3-hydroxykynurenine and 3-hydroxyantranilic acid in medication-free children with ADHD combined presentation (ADHD-C), with ADHD-C and oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), and with ADHD-C and conduct disorder (CD) versus healthy controls. The study also compared several ratios that are previously suggested to reflect the activities of the KP enzymes (kynurenine/tryptophan, kynurenic acid/kynurenine, 3-hydroxykynurenine/kynurenine) or neuroprotective activity (kynurenic acid/3-hydroxykynurenine) among groups. A total of 122 patients were enrolled: 46 children with ADHD-C alone, 43 children with ADHD-C+ODD, 33 children with ADHD-C+CD and 50 healthy controls. Targeted biochemical molecules were assessed by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry/mass spectrometry. Compared to control group, serum kynurenine levels were significantly higher in the ADHD-C group, serum 3-hydroxykynurenine levels were significantly lower in the ADHD-C and ADHD-C+ODD groups, the serum kynurenic acid/kynurenine ratio was significantly higher in the ADHD-C, ADHD-C+ODD and ADHD-C+CD groups, and the serum 3-hydroxykynurenine/kynurenine ratio was significantly lower in the ADHD-C group. These findings suggest that TMP may play a role in the pathophysiology of ADHD-C. Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier B.V.


Ebru Sağlam, Ayhan Bilgiç, Sedat Abuşoğlu, Ali Ünlü, Abdullah Sivrikaya. The role of tryptophan metabolic pathway in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder with and without comorbid oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder. Psychiatry research. 2021 Apr;298:113770

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PMID: 33545424

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