T cells reorganize their metabolic profiles after being activated, but the systemic metabolic effect of sustained activation of the immune system has remained unexplored. Here we report that augmented T cell responses in Pdcd1 -/- mice, which lack the inhibitory receptor PD-1, induced a metabolic serum signature characterized by depletion of amino acids. We found that the depletion of amino acids in serum was due to the accumulation of amino acids in activated Pdcd1 -/- T cells in the lymph nodes. A systemic decrease in tryptophan and tyrosine led to substantial deficiency in the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine in the brain, which resulted in behavioral changes dominated by anxiety-like behavior and exacerbated fear responses. Together these data indicate that excessive activation of T cells causes a systemic metabolomic shift with consequences that extend beyond the immune system.
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