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 September 3, 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 September 3, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Snack Attack: Study Says Action Movies Make You Snack More

Snack Attack: Study Says Action Movies Make You Snack More

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) You're more likely to gain weight while watching action flicks than you are watching other types of programming, says a new study published in JAMA. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) The U.N. says the problem is two-fold — quarantine zones and travel restrictions are limiting the movement of both people and food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctors Fear They're Losing Battle Against Ebola

Doctors Fear They're Losing Battle Against Ebola

AP (Sep. 2, 2014) As a third American missionary is confirmed to have contracted Ebola in Liberia, doctors on the ground in West Africa fear they're losing the battle against the outbreak. (Sept. 2) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tech Giants Bet on 3D Headsets for Gaming, Healthcare

Tech Giants Bet on 3D Headsets for Gaming, Healthcare

AFP (Sep. 2, 2014) When Facebook acquired the virtual reality hardware developer Oculus VR in March for $2 billion, CEO Mark Zuckerberg hailed the firm's technology as "a new communication platform." Duration: 02:24 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:
from the past week

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