Antioxidants may be able to treat the neurological problems that are common in kidney failure.
More than 300,000 people in the US suffer from kidney failure, which is usually caused by diabetes, high blood pressure or infection. Kidney failure often leads to neurological complications like fatigue, apathy, emotional instability and even convulsions and coma.
Researchers at the University of California at Irvine have learned more of the origin of the neurological problems in kidney failure using laboratory rats. They find that nitric oxide - a molecule which acts as a chemical signal - interacts with free radicals so creating a condition called oxidative stress, which damages brain cells. However, if rats with kidney failure are treated with an antioxidant drug, much of this damage can be prevented.
Further research is needed to see whether the antioxidant treatment is applicable to humans. There's also the possibility that this kind of oxidative stress might also play a role in brain disorders like Alzheimer's disease and Huntington's disease, as well as brain injury.