Phenylacetic acid (PAA) is produced by the bacterial metabolism of phenylalanine. Several bacterial strains are known to produce PAA, including Bacteroidetes and Clostridium species. Dietary polyphenols may also contribute to PAA elevation.
Common Dietary Sources:
- Mora Brugues J, Gonzalez Sastre F. Influence of intestinal flora on the elimination of phenylacetic acid in urine. Clin Chem. 1986;32(1 Pt 1):223.
- Feliciano RP, Boeres A, Massacessi L, et al. Identification and quantification of novel cranberry-derived plasma and urinary (poly)phenols. Arch Biochem Biophys. 2016;599:31-41.
- Sabelli H, Fawcett J, Gusovsky F, Edwards J, Jeffriess H, Javaid J. Phenylacetic acid as an indicator in bipolar affective disorders. J Clin Psychopharmacol. 1983;3(4):268-270.
- Sabelli HC, Fawcett J, Gusovsky F, et al. Clinical studies on the phenylethylamine hypothesis of affective disorder: urine and blood phenylacetic acid and phenylalanine dietary supplements. J Clin Psych. 1986;47(2):66-70.
- Sabelli HC, Javaid JI, Fawcett J, Kravitz HM, Wynn P. Urinary phenylacetic acid in panic disorder with and without depression. Acta Psych Scand. 1990;82(1):14-16.
Elevated PAA in the urine suggests incomplete digestion and absorption of phenylalanine in the intestine, allowing colonic bacteria to convert phenylalanine to PAA. Elevations may also reflect an overgrowth of bacteria, which convert phenylalanine to PAA. Several bacterial strains are known to produce PAA, including Bacteroidetes and Clostridium species. Dietary polyphenols may also contribute to PAA elevation.
There is a clinical correlation between decreased urinary PAA and depressive symptoms.
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