The therapeutic effect of Cerebrolysin in the treatment of dementia and brain injury has been proposed because of neurotrophic properties of this compound. Since an increased kynurenine metabolism has been documented in several brain pathologies including dementia the aim of the present study was to investigate the biochemical properties of Cerebrolysin with respect to kynurenic acid (KYNA) formation in an in vitro study. KYNA is an endogenous metabolite of the kynurenine pathway of tryptophan degradation and is an antagonist of the glutamate ionotropic excitatory amino acid and of the nicotine cholinergic receptors. The activities of the KYNA synthesizing enzymes kynurenine aminotransferases I, II and III (KAT I, KAT II and KAT III) in rat liver, and rat and human brain homogenates were analysed in the presence of Cerebrolysin. KAT I, II and III activities were measured using a radio-enzymatic method in the presence of 1 mM pyruvate and 100 µM [H3]l-kynurenine. Cerebrolysin, dose-dependently and significantly reduced KAT I, KAT II and KAT III activities of rat liver homogenate. Furthermore, Cerebrolysin exerted a dose-dependent inhibition of rat and human brain KAT I, KAT II and KAT III activities, too. The inhibitory effect of Cerebrolysin was more pronounced for KAT I than for KAT II and KAT III. The present study for the first time demonstrates the ability of Cerebrolysin to lower KYNA formation in rat liver as well as in rat and human brain homogenates. We propose Cerebrolysin as a compound susceptible of therapeutic exploitation in some disorders associated with elevated KYNA metabolism in the brain and/or other tissues. We suggest that the anti-dementia effect of Cerebrolysin observed in Alzheimer patients could be in part due to Cerebrolysin induced reduction of KYNA levels, thus modulating the cholinergic and glutamatergic neurotransmissions.

Abbreviations: KYNA, kynurenic acid, KAT, kynurenine aminotransferase, NMDA, N-methyl-d-aspartate, EAA, excitatory amino acid, CNS, central nervous system

Keywords: Kynurenic acid, Kynurenine aminotransferases, NMDA receptor, Cholinergic receptor, Dementia, Cerebrolysin