Biochemical pharmacology

Biosynthesis of N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT) in a melanoma cell line and its metabolization by peroxidases.

PMID 24508833


Tryptophan (TRP) is essential for many physiological processes, and its metabolism changes in some diseases such as infection and cancer. The most studied aspects of TRP metabolism are the kynurenine and serotonin pathways. A minor metabolic route, tryptamine and N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT) biosynthesis, has received far less attention, probably because of the very low amounts of these compounds detected only in some tissues, which has led them to be collectively considered as trace amines. In a previous study, we showed a metabolic interrelationship for TRP in melanoma cell lines. Here, we identified DMT and N,N-dimethyl-N-formyl-kynuramine (DMFK) in the supernatant of cultured SK-Mel-147 cells. Furthermore, when we added DMT to the cell culture, we found hydroxy-DMT (OH-DMT) and indole acetic acid (IAA) in the cell supernatant at 24 h. We found that SK-Mel-147 cells expressed mRNA for myeloperoxidase (MPO) and also had peroxidase activity. We further found that DMT oxidation was catalyzed by peroxidases. DMT oxidation by horseradish peroxidase, H2O2 and MPO from PMA-activated neutrophils produced DMFK, N,N-dimethyl-kynuramine (DMK) and OH-DMT. Oxidation of DMT by peroxidases apparently uses the common peroxidase cycle involving the native enzyme, compound I and compound II. In conclusion, this study describes a possible alternative metabolic pathway for DMT involving peroxidases that has not previously been described in humans and identifies DMT and metabolites in a melanoma cell line. The extension of these findings to other cell types and the biological effects of DMT and its metabolites on cell proliferation and function are key questions for future studies.