The study of CO in the tissues -- including its role in diabetes, cardiac dysfunction, hypertension and asthma -- has become the subject of increasing interest for researchers. However, this is the first time scientists are looking at its role in soft tissue trauma, said lead researcher Mary E. McCarty, who presented the study at an APS session at Experimental Biology 2006.
Small amounts of CO exist in the tissues, the result of the breakdown of a blood component known as heme. Carbon monoxide helps control blood pressure by dilating blood vessels, McCarty said. Her team reasoned that blocking the dilating action of CO would cause injured blood vessels to constrict, limiting bleeding and maintaining adequate blood pressure.
The research is still a long way from use in humans. But if successful, this new line of inquiry could eventually help stanch massive bleeding in instances of soft tissue trauma and help reduce the need for blood transfusions of patients facing lengthy surgery, among other uses.
McCarty is one of 12 finalists for a David S. Bruce Undergraduate Research Award from The American Physiological Society (APS). She will present the study at an APS-sponsored session at Experimental Biology 2006.
*Paper presentation: "Inhibitors of endogenously-formed CO arrest bleeding and confer protection in a model of severe hepatic injury," 12:45 p.m.-3 p.m. Wednesday, April 5, Shock, 903.16/Board #D16, Convention Center, Exhibit Hall D. The poster is on view 7:30 a.m. 3:30 p.m. Research was by Mary E. McCarty, Fruzsina K. Johnson, Christine S. Lin, Robert A. Johnson, Department of Physiology, Tulane University Health Sciences Center, New Orleans, and William Durante, Department of Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston.