Ex Vivo Analysis of Tryptophan Metabolism Using 19F NMR

Robert J. Tombari, Carla M. Saunders, Chun Yi Wu, Lee E. Dunlap, Dean J. Tantillo, David Olson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Tryptophan, an essential amino acid, is metabolized into a variety of small molecules capable of impacting human physiology, and aberrant tryptophan metabolism has been linked to a number of diseases. There are three principal routes by which tryptophan is degraded, and thus methods for measuring metabolic flux through these pathways can be used to understand the factors that perturb tryptophan metabolism and potentially to measure disease biomarkers. Here, we describe a method utilizing 6-fluorotryptophan as a probe for detecting tryptophan metabolites in ex vivo tissue samples via 19F nuclear magnetic resonance. As a proof of concept, we demonstrate that 6-fluorotryptophan can be used to measure changes in tryptophan metabolism resulting from antibiotic-induced changes in gut microbiota composition. Taken together, we describe a general strategy for monitoring amino acid metabolism using 19F nuclear magnetic resonance that is operationally simple and does not require chromatographic separation of metabolites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalACS Chemical Biology
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine


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