Mannitol could aid in cerebral palsy treatment - researchers

02 June 2010 21:11  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--The sugar alcohol mannitol could play a role in the treatment of cerebral palsy, researchers at the University of South Florida (USF) said on Wednesday.

Mannitol, a polyol derived from corn, improved the therapeutic effectiveness of human umbilical cord blood (HUCB) cells injected into neonatal rat models of cerebral palsy, according to USF researchers.

“The mannitol opened the blood-brain barrier by temporarily shrinking the tight endothelial cells that make up the barrier,” said Cesar Borlongan, a professor and the study's lead author.

Intravenously-delivered human umbilical cord blood may offer therapeutic benefits to those suffering from cerebral palsy if the blood cells can get past the blood-brain barrier to the site of injury, Borlongan said.

There is supportive treatment but no cure for cerebral palsy, a group of neurological disorders caused by brain damage before birth or during infancy and characterised by impaired muscle coordination, said Borlongan.

Other medical uses of mannitol include employment as a renal vasodilator and as an osmotic diuretic.

Mannitol is also used as a sweetener for people with diabetes, and as a sweetener in chewing gums and candies.

Other polyols derived from corn include sorbitol, maltitol and xylitol.

“Intravenous delivery of human umbilical cord blood alone promoted behavioural recovery in neonatal animal models of cerebral palsy, but their functional improvement was more pronounced when human umbilical cord blood transplantation was combined with mannitol,” Borlongan said.

He noted that the lab animals were administered a variety of post-treatment movement tests, and that those receiving the combination treatment instead of HUCB or mannitol alone demonstrated the most motor improvement.

“Our results indicate a pivotal role played by mannitol permeabilization of the blood-brain barrier,” Borlongan explained.

US mannitol producers include Illinois-based Corn Products International and Minnesota-based Cargill.

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By: Frank Zaworski
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