Toronto: Nitric oxide, which plays a key role in penile erections, could also damage brain cells (neurons) during stroke and hamper their recovery from the attack, say researchers.
Researchers from the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute recently discovered that NO, produced by the brain, besides damaging neurons, also shuts down the brain`s repair mechanisms.
The discovery could potentially open the way to a new strategy for treating stroke.
Excessive production of NO contributes to the severity and progression of stroke and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer`s, the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports.
"In this study, we`ve uncovered new clues as to how natural chemical reactions in the brain can contribute to brain damage-loss of memory and cognitive function in a number of diseases," said Stuart A. Lipton, clinical neurologist at the Sanford-Burnham`s Neuroscience, Aging, and Stem Cell Research Centre, according to a Stanford statement.
Lipton, who led the study along with Sanford-Burnham`s Tomohiro Nakamura, said: "We might be able to develop a new strategy for treating stroke and other disorders if we can find a way to reverse nitric oxide`s effect on a particular enzyme in nerve cells."