Pilot Research Program in Action!

Amino Acid may Hold Key to Diagnostic Marker


Tony Buffington, DVM, MS, PhD, professor of veterinary clinical sciences at The Ohio State University, is no stranger to IC research. A veteran of numerous IC investigations in both humans and cats, his latest discovery, reported in the current issue of Analyst (issue #134), reveals biomarkers with the potential to identify IC and offer new insights about the condition. Dr. Buffington, and his research team, found that both people with IC and cats with feline IC process the essential amino acid tryptophan and its metabolite, kynurenine differently from people and cats without IC.

The group found increased levels of these potential markers in blood samples taken from humans and cats with IC. They collected samples from humans with IC, healthy humans, and humans with other urological illnesses. They also collected samples from cats with feline interstitial cystitis, healthy cats, and cats with other diseases. They discovered similar increased levels of tryptophan and kynurenine in both the human IC blood samples and feline IC blood samples, but not in the other samples. Kynurenine is a brain compound produced when tryptophan breaks down in the body. Follow-up studies are indicating that IC is not isolated to the bladder, but may be coming from the central nervous system.

Using infrared microspectroscopy and liquid chromatography, the research team observed differences in the molecular profiles of blood samples indicating the presence or lack of disease. Dr. Buffington plans to use these techniques to test human samples from patients diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and fibromyalgia (FM) to see if the same biomarkers are associated with other chronic pain disorders.

This research, funded by a 2007 ICA Pilot Program grant, provides potential new diagnostic markers for IC. It also enhances our understanding of the chemical processes related to IC and may offer new directions for treatments and prevention strategies.

Posted June 19, 2009