Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Compound in Urine May Fight Spinal Cord Injury

Uric acid, a metabolic breakdown product found in urine and blood, may help reduce damage from spinal cord injury, researchers say.

In research with mice, scientists at Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, found that uric acid helped lessen some of the secondary cellular damage that occurs following spinal cord injury. This secondary damage is caused when the body's inflammatory response releases potentially harmful chemicals that exacerbate the injury.

Mice given uric acid just before and after they suffered a spinal cord injury recovered motor function quicker, and to a greater degree, than mice receiving a simple saline solution. In cell culture tests, the researchers discovered that uric acid protected spinal cord neurons from damage caused by a compound called peroxynitrite, which is linked to cell damage caused by inflammation.

The findings, reported in this week's issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, might someday help in the development of new treatments for spinal cord injuries, the researchers say.

By Robert Preidt