Journal of neural transmission (Vienna, Austria : 1996)

Kynurenic acid: a metabolite with multiple actions and multiple targets in brain and periphery.

PMID 22215208


It is usually assumed that kynurenic acid (KYNA) modifies neuronal function because it antagonizes the glycine site of the NMDA receptors and/or the neuronal cholinergic α7 nicotine receptors. It is not clear, however, whether the basal levels of KYNA found in brain extracellular spaces are sufficient to interact with these targets. Another reported target for KYNA is GPR35, an orphan receptor negatively coupled to G(i) proteins. GPR35 is expressed both in neurons and other cells (including glia, macrophages and monocytes). KYNA affinity for GPR35 in native systems has not been clarified and the low-affinity data widely reported in the literature for the interaction between KYNA and human or rat GPR35 have been obtained in modified expression systems. Possibly by interacting with GPR35, KYNA may also reduce glutamate release in brain and pro-inflammatory cytokines release in cell lines. The inhibition of inflammatory mediator release from both glia and macrophages may explain why KYNA has analgesic effects in inflammatory models. Furthermore, it may also explain why, KYNA administration (200 mg/kg ip × 3 times) to mice treated with lethal doses of LPS, significantly reduces the number of deaths. Finally, KYNA has been reported as an agonist of aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR), a nuclear protein involved in the regulation of gene transcription and able to cause immunosuppression after binding with dioxin. Thus, KYNA has receptors in the nervous and the immune systems and may play interesting regulatory roles in cell function.