Printer Friendly

Bilirubin: bad, yet good?

Bilirubin: Bad, yet good?

As an end product of the breakdown of red blood cells inmammals, bilirubin can cause problems if it accumulates in tissues in abnormal amounts, and it is particularly destructive when concentrated in the nervous system. Although normally excreted with body wastes, the fat-soluble bilirubin can cause dangerous jaundice, such as that seen in hemolytic disease of newborns. But there may be a good-news side to bilirubin's story, according to a report in the Feb. 27 SCIENCE.

Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley andSan Francisco found that very small concentrations of bilirubin "scavenge' harmful oxygen radicals in laboratory tests. Hydrogen peroxide and other oxygen radicals, by-products of the oxygen used during normal cellular metabolism, can damage cell membranes and enzymes through chemical reactions. They have been suggested as causes of a wide range of conditions, from cancer and heart disease to aging.

The study suggests that bilirubin in the body routinely actsas an antioxidant, disarming the oxygen radicals and thereby speeding repair of cell damage. Laboratory experiments show that when the oxygen concentration is equivalent to that found in living cells, the antioxidant activity of bilirubin exceeds that of well-known antioxidants found in mammalian cells.
COPYRIGHT 1987 Science Service, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1987, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:Science News
Date:Mar 14, 1987
Words:200
Previous Article:New plan drafted to save the panda.
Next Article:Circadian variation in ozone tolerance.
Topics:


Related Articles
Bagdade bags title, but Irish just short.
Sunshine on her shoulders.
What new movies have you seen, or are looking forward to seeing?
Insurers' 60-year 'temporary' reprieve.
Emphasize accountability in nursing home cases.
Consider using 'profiler' testimony.
Question potential jurors with a plan.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2016 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters