NIH Funded Study Deciphers Chemical Sequence of Nerve Regeneration in Rats
The vitamin folate appears to promote healing in damaged rat spinal cord tissue by triggering a change in DNA, according to a laboratory study funded by the National Institutes of Health.
The researchers showed that the healing effects of the vitamin increased with the dosage, until regrowth of the damaged tissue reached a maximum level. After this threshold was reached, regrowth declined progressively with increasing doses until it reached the level seen in the absence of the vitamin.
Specifically, folate stimulated a process known as DNA methylation, a natural biochemical process in which chemical compounds known as methyl groups are attached to DNA. The study results suggest that a greater understanding of the chemical sequences associated with folate metabolism and DNA methylation may lead to new techniques to promote healing of damaged spinal cords and other nervous system injuries.
The research is at an early stage and additional studies are needed to determine what role folate might play in the treatment of human beings with spinal cord injury. Information about folate in human nutrition, including dietary sources of the vitamin and appropriate daily intake is available from the folate fact sheet(http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/folate.asp) of the NIH Office of Dietary Supplements (http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/folate.asp).
The research was supported by the NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, and National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. The findings were published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.