Background: Many women experience depressive symptoms during pregnancy and postpartum periods. These depressive symptoms are often accompanied by other inflammatory morbidities present during pregnancy. Tryptophan (TRP) metabolism has attracted considerable attention due to its influence on the onset of depression via induction of inflammation. We examined the changes in plasma levels of TRP metabolites in pregnant women with depressive symptoms during pregnancy and/or the postpartum period. Methods: In line with a previous analysis using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS), participants were divided into a non-depressive (ND) group, a postpartum depressive (PD) group, a temporary gestational depressive (TG) group, and a continuous depressive (CD) group. Blood samples were collected before and 1 month after delivery. The concentrations of plasma TRP metabolites were measured using high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). Results: There are differences in plasma levels of TRP metabolites during pregnancy and postpartum periods between the ND group and the PD group, but not the TG or CD group. In the PD group, plasma levels of kynurenine (KYN) and kynurenic acid (KA), and KYN/TRP and KA/KYN ratio during the pregnancy period were higher and 3-hydroxyanthranilic acid (3HAA) during the postpartum period was lower than those in the ND group. Limitations: Histories regarding mood disorders before pregnancy were not assessed. Conclusions: The higher plasma levels of KYN and KA, and KYN/TRP and KA/KYN ratio during pregnancy period and lower plasma level of 3HAA during the postpartum period could be useful predictive and diagnostic markers of postpartum depressive symptoms.
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