The Niacin Required for Optimum Growth Can Be Synthesized from L-Tryptophan in Growing Mice Lacking Tryptophan-2,3-Dioxygenase1-3

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In mammals, nicotinamide (Nam) is biosynthesized from l-tryptophan (l-Trp). The enzymes involved in the initial step of the l-Trp→Nam pathway are l-Trp-2,3-dioxygenase (TDO) and indoleamine-2,3-dio×ygenase (IDO). We aimed to determine whether tdo-knockout (tdo−/−) mice fed a diet without preformed niacin can synthesize enough Nam to sustain optimum growth. Wild-type (WT) and tdo−/− mice were fed a chemically defined 20% casein diet with or without preformed niacin (30 mg nicotinic acid/kg) for 28 d. Body weight, food intake, and liver NAD concentrations did not differ among the groups. In the groups of mice fed the niacin-free diet, urinary concentrations of the upstream metabolites kynurenine (320% increase, P < 0.0001), kynurenic acid (270% increase, P < 0.0001), xanthurenic acid (770% increase, P < 0.0001), and 3-hydro×yanthranilic acid (3-HA; 450% increase, P < 0.0001) were higher in the tdo−/− mice than in the WT mice, while urinary concentrations of the downstream metabolite quinolinic acid (QA; 50% less, P = 0.0010) and the sum of Nam and its catabolites (10% less, P < 0.0001) were lower in the tdo−/− mice than in the WT mice. These findings show that the kynurenine formed in extrahepatic tissues by IDO and subsequent enzymes can be metabolized up to 3-HA, but not into QA. However, the tdo−/− mice sustained optimum growth even when fed the niacin-free diet for 1 mo, suggesting they can synthesize the minimum necessary amount of Nam from l-Trp, because the liver can import blood kynurenine formed in extrahepatic tissues and metabolize it into Nam via NAD and the resulting Nam is then distributed back into extrahepatic tissues. J. Nutr. 143: 1046-1051, 2013.

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