Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Arginine therapy shows promise for sickle cell pain

Date:
September 16, 2013
Source:
Emory Health Sciences
Summary:
Arginine therapy may be a safe and inexpensive treatment for acute pain episodes in patients with sickle cell disease, according to results of a recent clinical study.

The abnormal hemoglobin in sickle cell disease causes red blood cells to distort into a sickle, or crescent shape that often blocks blood flow in small blood vessels, leading to severe pain and organ damage.
Credit: Woodruff Health Sciences Center

Arginine therapy may be a safe and inexpensive treatment for acute pain episodes in patients with sickle cell disease, according to results of a recent clinical study. The study was the first randomized placebo-controlled study to demonstrate benefits of arginine therapy in children with sickle cell disease hospitalized for severe pain.

Sickle cell disease is an inherited condition in which the body makes red blood cells containing abnormal hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen from the lungs to other cells in the body. This abnormal hemoglobin (hemoglobin S) causes red blood cells to distort into a sickle, or crescent shape that often blocks blood flow in small blood vessels, leading to severe pain and organ damage.

Arginine is an amino acid found in a normal diet, but is also available as a nutritional supplement. Previous work done by the authors identified an acute arginine deficiency in children during pain episodes, with lowest arginine levels found in children with pain severe enough to require hospitalization. A deficiency of nitric oxide, a potent vasodilator, has been identified in sickle cell disease and may contribute to episodes of blocked vessels and pain. Since arginine is a building block of nitric oxide, researchers hypothesized that arginine could be a beneficial treatment for pain related to sickle cell disease.

Previous research by the authors also found that a single dose of arginine given to patients with sickle cell disease and acute pain episodes resulted in a significant dose-dependent increase in plasma nitric oxide concentration.

Building on that knowledge, the current research study was a randomized, double blind placebo control clinical trial of 38 children with sickle cell disease hospitalized for 56 episodes of pain. The research team discovered a 54 percent reduction in the use of opioid pain medication and significantly lower pain scores at hospital discharge in those treated with arginine over those receiving placebo.

The results were published in the journal Haematologica. First author was Claudia R. Morris, MD, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Emergency Medicine at Emory University School of Medicine. She conducted the study while in her previous position at Children's Hospital & Research Center Oakland, in Oakland, CA, with Dr. Elliott P. Vichinsky, MD and colleagues.

"Episodes of pain due to vaso-occlusion are the leading cause of hospital admission and emergency room visits and are associated with increased mortality, yet there is no effective therapy targeting the underlying cause," says Morris. "Treatment consists only of symptom relief with pain medicines and hydration. There is an urgent need for new therapies for acute sickle cell pain, and a greater than 50 percent reduction in use of opioid pain medication was a remarkable finding."

The study found no problems with safety in the use of arginine therapy. Although the treatment did not result in a significantly shorter length of stay in the hospital, a trending decrease in hospital stay by 17 hours favored the arginine arm. The researchers believe delivering the study drug as early as possible in the emergency department or clinic may have a greater impact on length of stay, since many patients received their first dose of medication more than 24 hours after presenting the emergency department.

A large, multi-center trial is warranted in order to confirm these observations and test the effects of delivering the therapy sooner, they note in the published paper.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. C. R. Morris, F. A. Kuypers, L. Lavrisha, M. Ansari, N. Sweeters, M. Stewart, G. Gildengorin, L. Neumayr, E. P. Vichinsky. A randomized, placebo-controlled trial of arginine therapy for the treatment of children with sickle cell disease hospitalized with vaso-occlusive pain episodes. Haematologica, 2013; 98 (9): 1375 DOI: 10.3324/haematol.2013.086637

Cite This Page:

Emory Health Sciences. "Arginine therapy shows promise for sickle cell pain." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 September 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130916204726.htm>.
Emory Health Sciences. (2013, September 16). Arginine therapy shows promise for sickle cell pain. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130916204726.htm
Emory Health Sciences. "Arginine therapy shows promise for sickle cell pain." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130916204726.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law

Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law

AP (July 22, 2014) Two federal appeals courts issued conflicting rulings Tuesday on the legality of the federally-run healthcare exchange that operates in 36 states. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The new sci-fi thriller "Lucy" is making people question whether we really use all our brainpower. But, as scientists have insisted for years, we do. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Find New Way To Make Human Platelets

Scientists Find New Way To Make Human Platelets

Newsy (July 22, 2014) Boston scientists have discovered a new way to create fully functioning human platelets using a bioreactor and human stem cells. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

TheStreet (July 21, 2014) New research shows Gilead Science's drug Sovaldi helps in curing hepatitis C in those who suffer from HIV. In a medical study, the combination of Gilead's Hep C drug with anti-viral drug Ribavirin cured 76% of HIV-positive patients suffering from the most common hepatitis C strain. Hepatitis C and related complications have been a top cause of death in HIV-positive patients. Typical medication used to treat the disease, including interferon proteins, tended to react badly with HIV drugs. However, Sovaldi's %1,000-a-pill price tag could limit the number of patients able to access the treatment. TheStreet's Keris Lahiff reports from New York. Video provided by TheStreet
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