Tryptophan metabolism is differently regulated between large and small dogs

Jessica M. Hoffman, J. Veronika Kiklevich, Marika Austad, Vi Linh Tran, Dean P. Jones, Angela Royal, Carolyn Henry, Steven N. Austad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Companion dogs have recently been promoted as an animal model for the study of aging due to their similar disease profile to humans, the sophistication of health assessment and disease diagnosis, and the shared environments with their owners. In addition, dogs show an interesting life history trait pattern where smaller individuals are up to two-fold longer lived than their larger counterparts. While some of the mechanisms underlying this size and longevity trade-off are strongly suspected (i.e., growth hormone/IGF-I), there are likely a number of undiscovered mechanisms as well. Accordingly, we have completed a large-scale global metabolomic profiling of dogs encompassing a range of sizes and ages from three cities across the USA. We found a surprisingly strong location signal in the metabolome, stronger in fact than any signal related to age, breed, or sex. However, after controlling for the effects of location, tryptophan metabolism emerged as significantly associated with weight of the dogs, with small dogs having significantly higher levels of tryptophan pathway metabolites. Overall, our results point toward novel, testable hypotheses about the underlying physiological mechanisms that influence size and longevity in the companion dog and suggest that dogs may be useful in sorting out the complexities of the tryptophan metabolic network.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)881-896
Number of pages16
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Body size
  • Dog
  • Metabolomics
  • Tryptophan metabolism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • veterinary (miscalleneous)
  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Tryptophan metabolism is differently regulated between large and small dogs'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this