The synthesis of (o-nitrobenzoyl)-, (m-nitrobenzoyl)-, and (p-nitrobenzoyl)alanine (o-, m-, and p-NBA), three new kynurenine analogues, and their evaluation as inhibitors of kynureninase and kynurenine-3-hydroxylase are reported. The most potent of these compounds, m-NBA, has an IC50 of 0.9 +/- 0.1 microM as an inhibitor of kynurenine-3-hydroxylase and of 100 +/- 12 microM as an inhibitor of kynureninase. When administered to rats, m-NBA significantly increases the concentration of kynurenine and kynurenic acid in the brain as well as in blood and in the liver. m-NBA has also been shown to increase the concentration of kynurenic acid in hippocampal extracellular fluid. This increase is associated with sedative and anticonvulsant activities, thus confirming the possibility of antagonizing L-glutamate-mediated effects by modulating the kynurenine pathway of L-tryptophan metabolism.
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