Blood Marker For Interstitial Cystitis

A recent study may help make it easier to diagnose the condition known as interstitial cystitis (IC), a bladder disorder marked by severe pain that tends to elude diagnosis. The study found a blood marker that is common to both cats and humans and appears to be present in those susceptible to the bladder condition.

Evolving Idea

Researchers followed up the study by examining the chemicals that appeared in the blood samples. It appears that the essential amino acid known as tryptophan, acts in a different manner in cats and humans with IC, and that this may have an effect on how the brain transmits signals. While these results are rudimentary and much more research needs to be done on the topic, an idea has evolved that IC is not just a bladder condition, but may originate from the central nervous system, say the researchers.

The study has been published in the journal Analyst. Tony Buffington, lead author of the study and a professor of veterinary clinical sciences at Ohio State University says, "What we know now is that this testing method is very sensitive and specific for the disorder in both humans and domestic cats. So far it hasn’t missed one diagnosis."

Buffington and his team gathered samples from cats known to have feline IC, as well as from cats in the pink of health, and cats with other diseases. The same was done for three groups of humans: with IC, without (healthy), and with other urological diseases. The researchers employed the use of an infrared microspectroscope to view similarities and differences of a given sample's molecular profile.

Molecular Peaks

Infrared spectroscopy enables a scientist to determine the biochemical composition of blood according to where the molecules peak along the infrared spectrum. In this study, it was clear that blood samples from both humans and cats with interstitial cystitis showed the same molecular peaks.

The scientists then identified the chemical compositions of these molecular profiles and found that there was a minimum of 20% more tryptophan and kynurenine in the blood samples of the cats with IC than in the samples from the healthy cats. As tryptophan breaks down in the body, it becomes kynurenine. When levels of kynurenine are high, this suggests that tryptophan is being diverted away from its primary purpose of sending signals within the brain. The same testing method worked well in differentiating the human samples as coming from patients with IC, healthy patients, and patients suffering from other urological disorders.

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