BACKGROUND: Both the Crohn's disease exclusion diet combined with partial enteral nutrition (CDED+PEN) and exclusive enteral nutrition (EEN) can induce remission in mild-to-moderate pediatric Crohn's disease and are associated with a marked decrease in fecal kynurenine levels. This suggests a link between clinical outcome of dietary therapy and changes in tryptophan metabolism pathways. Here, we characterize the changes in several fecal tryptophan metabolites induced by CDED+PEN or EEN and their association with remission. METHODS: A total of 21 tryptophan metabolites were quantified in fecal samples from a 12-week prospective randomized trial with CDED+PEN or EEN for induction of remission in mild to moderate pediatric Crohn's disease. Tryptophan metabolites at week 0 (W0), W6, and W12 of 73 samples were quantitatively measured by liquid chromatography coupled with triple quadrupole mass spectrometry, and data were analyzed according to clinical groups of baselines (W0), induced remission at W6, no remission, sustained remission at W12, and nonsustained remission. RESULTS: Reduction in components of the kynurenine pathway, such as kynurenine and quinolinic acid, were strongly associated with induced remission with both CDED+PEN and EEN, which were maintained in sustained remission. Specific serotonin pathway metabolites, such as melatonin, N-acetylserotonin, and 5-OH-tryptophan, were significantly increased in fecal samples from patients maintaining remission at W12 with both CDED+PEN and EEN. Importantly, in samples from patients failing to sustain remission, no changes were observed. Remission induction with EEN differs from CDED+PEN, particularly the moderate effects on indole pathway metabolites. The ratios of kynurenine and melatonin and quinolinic acid and melatonin perform well as markers for sustained remission. CONCLUSIONS: The reduction in specific kynurenine pathway compounds and the increase in serotonin pathway compounds are associated with diet-induced and sustained remission. Further studies are warranted to assess causality and the association of these metabolites with specific diet and lifestyle factors, affecting sustained clinical remission.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)684-694
Number of pages11
JournalInflammatory Bowel Diseases
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2023


  • biomarkers
  • dietary therapy
  • pediatric Crohn's disease
  • pediatric Crohn’s disease
  • remission
  • tryptophan metabolites

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