Date of Submission

Spring 2015

Academic Programs and Concentrations


Project Advisor 1

Michael Tibbetts

Project Advisor 2

Jamie Lynn Harden

Abstract/Artist's Statement

Tryptophan metabolism has immunomodulatory ability and is considered to be an immunosuppressive pathway, but recent research on psoriasis, a chronic inflammatory disease of human skin, has shown an upregulation of tryptophan metabolism in patients with the disease. Tryptophan can be broken down into three major metabolites: kynurenine, 3-hydroxyanthranilic acid (3HAA), and quinolinic acid (QA). Tryptophan and kynurenine are known to have immunosuppressive properties because the initial enzyme which breaks down tryptophan is associated with cancer. However, further downstream metabolites 3HAA and QA might promote inflammation because of the pathway’s recent link to psoriasis. To test the immunological effects of these metabolites, we cultured normal human skin samples obtained from de-identified abdominoplasty waste skin with either tryptophan, kynurenine, 3HAA, QA, or without a metabolite to serve as the control. The cell culture and supernatant were then used for RNA and protein analysis. From this data, we found that some cytokines, particularly cytokines of the innate immune system, were differentially expressed between metabolite treatments. These results suggest that tryptophan and its metabolites each have a distinct effect on immune response in human skin.

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