Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Nitric oxide impacts source of sickle cell pain crisis, study suggests

Date:
May 9, 2011
Source:
Georgia Health Sciences University
Summary:
Nitric oxide gas appears to directly impact the source of the classic, disabling pain crises of sickle cell disease, researchers report.

Nitric oxide gas appears to directly impact the source of the classic, disabling pain crises of sickle cell disease, Georgia Health Sciences University researchers report.

The short-acting gas helps unglue hemoglobin molecules that stick together, forming long chains that ultimately deform red blood cells and prompting a cellular pileup in small blood vessels and pain, said Dr. C. Alvin Head, Chairman of GHSU's Department of Anesthesiology.

The findings get scientists closer to understanding why red blood cells sickle and potentially to a easy-to-use, non-addictive treatment that helps avoid it, said Dr. Tohru Ikuta, GHSU molecular hematologist.

Hydroxyurea, which prompts the body to make more fetal hemoglobin which cannot sickle, is currently the only approved therapy for sickle cell. Patients with recurring pain crises typically must take increasingly higher doses of stronger narcotics to deal with the pain.

Head and his colleagues envision instead an inhaler like asthmatics use that enables them to breathe in nitric oxide when they feel a pain crisis coming on. "Drugs just mask the symptoms," Head said. "We have mounting evidence that nitric oxide directly addresses the source of pain crises to help patients avoid them."

They've shown in a small patient sample that inhaling nitric oxide appears safe and effective. The study of 18 patients in Atlanta, Chicago and Detroit published in 2010 in the American Journal of Hematology showed that the half who inhaled nitric oxide for four hours had better pain control than those receiving only the standard self-administered morphine.

The new study examined nitric oxide's impact from many angles and showed that it appears to disperse dense, solid chains of hemoglobin troublemakers. Once a significant number of hemoglobin molecules stick together, it causes red blood cells to distort from their natural round shape that easily maneuvers blood vessels to a sickle-shape. At that point, red blood cells also become uncharacteristically sticky.

They found nitric oxide reduced the length of the unnatural hemoglobin strands, made the strands more fragile and, using a high-powered confocal microscope, they could see it also helped cells regain a more normal shape. Studies were done on human cells in vitro.

Next steps include fine-tuning the dose and learning more about why red blood cells become sticky. Head notes that with a gas, it's a lot more tricky to determine how much drug gets into the blood than with an oral or intravenous delivery. They already have evidence that in sickle cell disease red and white blood cells stick together, which they should not.

They believe their findings about how these cells clog up vessels will have broad applications for a number of clot-based conditions, including the increased clot risk that follows surgery. "Really what we are learning is the basic understanding of early clot formation," Head said.

Earlier this year, GHSU scientists reported in Blood that a new compound, an aptamer, developed by Archemix Corporation in Cambridge, Mass., also appears to prevent cellular pileups by occupying sticky receptors lining the walls of small blood vessels where sickle-shaped red blood cells and white blood cells can stick. That study, led by Dr. Diana R. Gutsaeva, GHSU physiologist and molecular biologist, points toward another potential sickle cell therapy.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Georgia Health Sciences University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. C. Alvin Head, Paul Swerdlow, William A. McDade, Ratan Mani Joshi, Tohru Ikuta, Melanie L. Cooper, James R. Eckman. Beneficial effects of nitric oxide breathing in adult patients with sickle cell crisis. American Journal of Hematology, 2010; 85 (10): 800 DOI: 10.1002/ajh.21832

Cite This Page:

Georgia Health Sciences University. "Nitric oxide impacts source of sickle cell pain crisis, study suggests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 May 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110509161753.htm>.
Georgia Health Sciences University. (2011, May 9). Nitric oxide impacts source of sickle cell pain crisis, study suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110509161753.htm
Georgia Health Sciences University. "Nitric oxide impacts source of sickle cell pain crisis, study suggests." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110509161753.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Orthodontist Mom Jennifer Salzer on the Best Time for Braces

Orthodontist Mom Jennifer Salzer on the Best Time for Braces

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) Is your child ready? Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.S. Issues Ebola Travel Restrictions, Are Visa Bans Next?

U.S. Issues Ebola Travel Restrictions, Are Visa Bans Next?

Newsy (Oct. 22, 2014) Now that the U.S. is restricting travel from West Africa, some are dropping questions about a travel ban and instead asking about visa bans. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
US to Track Everyone Coming from Ebola Nations

US to Track Everyone Coming from Ebola Nations

AP (Oct. 22, 2014) Stepping up their vigilance against Ebola, federal authorities said Wednesday that everyone traveling into the US from Ebola-stricken nations will be monitored for symptoms for 21 days. (Oct. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctors Help Paralysed Man Walk Again, Patient in Disbelief

Doctors Help Paralysed Man Walk Again, Patient in Disbelief

AFP (Oct. 22, 2014) Polish doctors describe how they helped a paralysed man walk again, with the patient in disbelief at the return of sensation to his legs. Duration: 1:04 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins