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Background: HAAO is a monomeric cytosolic protein belonging to the family of intramolecular dioxygenases containing nonheme ferrous iron. It is widely distributed in peripheral organs, such as liver and kidney, and is also present in low amounts in the central nervous system. HAAO catalyzes the synthesis of quinolinic acid (QUIN) from 3-hydroxyanthranilic acid. QUIN is an excitotoxin whose toxicity is mediated by its ability to activate glutamate N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors. Increased cerebral levels of QUIN may participate in the pathogenesis of neurologic and inflammatory disorders. HAAO has been suggested to play a role in disorders associated with altered tissue levels of QUIN.