Babies born to women who do not consume enough folic acid (sometimes referred to as folate or vitamin B9) are at high risk of developing neural tube defects (i.e., defects in the development of the spinal cord or brain). This is the reason underlying the recommendation that women who are pregnant take a folic acid supplement. A team of researchers, led by Bermans Iskandar, at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, has now generated data in rodents suggesting that folic acid might also help promote healing in brain injury and injured spinal cord. Specifically, the team was able to uncover a molecular pathway (DNA methylation) by which folate can promote nerve cell regeneration following spinal neuron injury in rodents.
In an accompanying commentary, Matthias Endres and Golo Kronenberg, at Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany, discuss how these data, together with the safety and simplicity of folic acid supplementation, provide a rationale for testing whether folate supplementation is beneficial for patients with spinal cord and brain trauma (Courtesy of Eurkealert).
The full article is available online free here:
Commentary available here:
Reference: Bermans J. Iskandar, et al. “Folate regulation of axonal regeneration in the rodent central nervous system through DNA methylation” J Clin Invest. April 26, 2010 (doi:10.1172/JCI40000).