What is Uridine?

Karyn Maier
Karyn Maier

Uridine is a naturally occurring substance manufactured by the liver and classified as a nucleoside, meaning that it is a compound containing a nucleic acid with a pyrimidine base that has bonded to the alcohol group of a sugar. Specifically, uridine is a nucleoside of uracil, a primary constituent of ribonucleic acid (RNA), which is involved in the synthesis of protein in the body. This occurs when uracil forms an attachment with ribofuranose, the simple sugar that resides in RNA. This compound is further receptive to the addition of various phosphate groups to form one of three nucleotides, agents involved in regulating metabolism. It may also form deoxyuridine from a bond between uracil and the sugar deoxyribose, but this compound seldom occurs naturally in living organisms.

Breast milk contains uridine.
Breast milk contains uridine.

Researchers have discovered that uridine may have potential benefit in treating a number of medical conditions. For instance, several clinical trials involving cancer patients indicate that supplementation with this compound may help to offset the toxic effects of chemotherapy. There is also evidence to suggest that this substance may help to prevent cellular damage and liver dysfunction associated with a class of anti-HIV medications known collectively as AZT. However, it should be noted that the majority of tests regarding the latter application have been conducted in vitro and not on human subjects.

Sugar beets are a natural source of uridine.
Sugar beets are a natural source of uridine.

Other conditions for which therapy with this substance is being considered includes the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer's, bipolar disorder, and depression. In fact, animal-based studies focused on the anti-depressive effects of supplementing with uridine and omega 3 fatty acids combined have shown promising results that are comparable to the efficacy of conventional medications. These studies have prompted at least two US pharmaceutical companies to investigate the future potential of treating these and other disorders with triacetyluridine (TAU), a drug initially dubbed PN401, that converts into uridine in the body.

Uridine is being tested in combination with other substances in the area of preventing age-related dementia.
Uridine is being tested in combination with other substances in the area of preventing age-related dementia.

Additional study and testing includes the use of uridine in combination with omega 3 fatty acids, cytidine, and choline to help prevent age-related dementia. A team of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has found that these nutrients stimulate the production of phosphatidylcholine and phosphatidylserine. While virtually every cell in the body requires these two phospholipids for normal functioning, they are critical for neurotransmission in the brain. In addition, Turkish scientists have further found that supplementation exhibits these effects without diminishing acetylcholine release, a characteristic associated with age-related dementia.

Uridine may be helpful in treating depression.
Uridine may be helpful in treating depression.

Natural sources include tomatoes, sugar beets, broccoli, meats, molasses, and Brewer's yeast. It is also a component of human breast milk. Unfortunately, giving exception to breast milk and yeast, the human body does not readily absorb dietary sources of this substance. Beer lovers may be happy to learn, however, that their beverage of choice increases serum levels of uridine, likely due to its yeast content. Attempting to raise available levels of this nutrient by consuming large amounts of beer or yeast may also spike purine levels and increase uric acid output, as well as leading to other health problems associated with alcohol abuse.

Medical researchers are studying the effects of uridine on people who have bipolar disorder.
Medical researchers are studying the effects of uridine on people who have bipolar disorder.
Karyn Maier
Karyn Maier

Contributing articles to wiseGEEK is just one of Karyn’s many professional endeavors. She is also a magazine writer and columnist, mainly for health-related publications, as well as the author of four books. Karyn lives in New York’s Catskill Mountain region and specializes in topics about green living and botanical medicine.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments

anon133471

double blind randomized prospective studies should be used to determined effects, good and bad, of various dosages of uridine. Does anybody know any such data on this subject?

megaMouse

The consumption of RNA-rich foods may aggravate or cause the condition called gout. RNA-rich foods include meats like liver, pancreas, and other edible organs. Some other RNA-rich foods include brewer's yeast, sugarcane extract, broccoli, and tomatoes. It's important to note that these RNA-rich foods can be consumed in moderation. Excessive intake of the RNA-rich foods cause/irritate gout.

Post your comments
Login:
Forgot password?
Register: