Tryptophan catabolism reflects disease activity in human tuberculosis

Jeffrey M. Collins, Amnah Siddiqa, Dean P. Jones, Ken Liu, Russell R. Kempker, Azhar Nizam, N. Sarita Shah, Nazir Ismail, Samuel G. Ouma, Nestani Tukvadze, Shuzhao Li, Cheryl L. Day, Jyothi Rengarajan, James C.M. Brust, Neel R. Gandhi, Joel D. Ernst, Henry M. Blumberg, Thomas R. Ziegler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


There is limited understanding of the role of host metabolism in the pathophysiology of human tuberculosis (TB). Using high-resolution metabolomics with an unbiased approach to metabolic pathway analysis, we discovered that the tryptophan pathway is highly regulated throughout the spectrum of TB infection and disease. This regulation is characterized by increased catabolism of tryptophan to kynurenine, which was evident not only in active TB disease but also in latent TB infection (LTBI). Further, we found that tryptophan catabolism is reversed with effective treatment of both active TB disease and LTBI in a manner commensurate with bacterial clearance. Persons with active TB and LTBI also exhibited increased expression of indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase-1 (IDO-1), suggesting IDO-1 mediates observed increases in tryptophan catabolism. Together, these data indicate IDO-1-mediated tryptophan catabolism is highly preserved in the human response to Mycobacterium tuberculosis and could be a target for biomarker development as well as host-directed therapies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere137131
JournalJCI Insight
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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