In addition to the main catabolic routes of tryptophan (Trp), there exist minor and less thoroughly investigated pathways; one of these leads to indolylacrylic acid (IAcrA). IAcrA is a plant growth hormone, whereas its biological role in animals is still obscure, as is the way and site where it is formed in the organism. A two-stage production is likely: Intestinal microorganisms catabolize Trp to indole derivatives which are then absorbed and converted to IAcrA and its glycine conjugate, indolylacryloylglycine (IAcrGly). Our finding of IAcrGly in the urine of proven germ-free piglets points to the possibility that Trp can be converted to IAcrA without the intervention of intestinal microorganisms. Seasonal and age variations, influence of light and connection with photodermatoses have been reported. Besides other pathological conditions the differences in IAcrGly excretion relative to normal controls were especially pronounced in some myopathies, namely in boys with Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
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