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The pathogenesis of morphea and other cutaneous sclerosing disorders remain poorly understood. Although they are considered to be autoimmune disorders, abnormal tryptophan metabolism may be involved. Current therapy is directed to supressing the autoimmune response. Demonstration of a therapeutic response to manipulation of the kynurenine pathway would both support a role for abnormal tryptophan metabolism and offer additional targets for therapy. Tranilast is a 3-hydroxyanthranilic acid derivative known to target the kynurenine pathway. The aim of this study was to see if tranilast lowered the urinary excretion of the kynurenine metabolites kynurenic and quinolinic acid under condition of L tryptophan loading in a volunteer. Mean baseline value for kynurenic acid and quinolinic acid were 1.1 and 2.1 mmol/mol creatinine, respectively. This rose to 5.6 and 3.8 mmol/mol creatinine respectively under conditions of L tryptophan loading 2 grams daily. Adding 1 g of tranilast daily lowered the values to 2.0 and 2.9 mmol/mol creatinine, respectively. These data suggest that tranilast acts as a competitive inhibitor of either indoleamine 2, 3-dioxygenase (IDO), tryptophan 2, 3 di-oxygenase (TDO) or both. As it involved only 1 subject, the results may not be representative of the larger population and must be considered preliminary.
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