Fish Odor Syndrome: New Findings

by Colleen Fleiss on Nov 23 2020 11:47 PM

Fish Odor Syndrome: New Findings
Fish odor syndrome or trimethylaminuria is a condition in which the liver cannot break down the smelly chemical trimethylamine (TMA).
The chemical is produced by bacterial enzymes residing in the gut leaving people with an unpleasant fish-like odor.

University of Warwick researchers have stabilized and inhibited the enzyme that produces TMA. The study findings pave the way for new drugs to treat fish odor syndrome.

Cause of Fish Odor Syndrome

The syndrome is caused when CntA/B (enzyme pathway in the gut) produces TMA; the process happens when the enzyme breaks down a TMA precursor called L-Carnitine, found in dairy, fish, and meat.

If a person lacks the functional liver enzyme called FMO3, they cannot degrade TMA into a non-smelly chemical form, TMAO (trimethylamine oxide). The TMA then builds up in the body and ends up in bodily fluids.

In the study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, researchers have focused on the CntA protein of the CntA/B enzyme, to stabilize and study it.

The research group was able to gain insight into how CntA perceives its L-Carnitine substrate, with a 3D crystal structure model.

By studying the complete electron transfer pathway, scientists could see how the protein can turnover TMA.

There are grounds for further research into the future discovery of drugs targeting the TMA-producing enzyme in the human gut.

The lead researcher, Dr Mussa Quareshy, from the School of Life Sciences at the University of Warwick comments: "We have identified novel, drug-like inhibitors which can inhibit CntA function and thus TMA formation with the potential to attenuate TMA formation in the gut microbiome. This is vital not only for people who have fish odour syndrome, but also because TMA can accelerate atherosclerosis and heart disease, therefore it's urgency to be targeted by drugs is rather significant."