Elevated Quinolinic Acid Relative to Kynurenic Acid Associates with Poor Cognitive Performance in Lupus
New research associates an imbalance of quinolinic acid relative to kynurenic acid with poor cognitive performance in people with lupus. Quinolinic acid and kynurenic acid are byproducts of one of the body’s cellular energy pathways. The disruption of this pathway can create an imbalance of quinolinic acid relative to kynurenic acid. This imbalance can potentially damage neurons, leading to cognitive dysfunction. People with lupus exhibited elevated quinolinic acid relative to kynurenic acid compared to healthy people.
Researchers examined a group of people, comprised of 74 who were healthy and 74 who had lupus. They measured blood levels of substances produced in the cellular energy pathway, including quinolinic and kynurenic acid. Each participant was also given a series of cognitive tests along with assessments of pain and mood.
Those with lupus and elevated quinolinic acid relative to kynurenic acid performed worse on the majority of cognitive tests, and had higher depression scores, than healthy people. Elevated quinolinic acid relative to kynurenic acid was associated with poor cognitive performance in people with lupus.
"Cognitive dysfunction is common in lupus patients and potentially devastating, yet therapies are lacking. We report a novel finding that an imbalance of quinolinic acid relative to kynurenic acid associated with poor cognitive performance in lupus. These results suggest a potential therapeutic target that warrants further study," says Dr. Erik Anderson, a Gary S. Gilkeson Career Development Awardee with the Lupus Foundation of America and primary investigator of the study.
The discovery of an association between an imbalance of quinolinic acid relative to kynurenic acid and poor cognitive performance will help guide further exploration in this area. Continued study may lead to new areas to target for lupus therapy.
Learn more about coping with the cognitive symptoms of lupus. The Lupus Foundation of America supported Dr. Anderson’s lupus research through its Gary S. Gilkeson Career Development Award. Click here to learn more about the Gary S. Gilkeson Career Development Award and here to learn more about Dr. Anderson’s work.
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