Toronto, Feb 5 (IANS) 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."