Encyclopedia > Urea

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Urea is an organic compound of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and hydrogen, with the formula CON2H4 and the structure

In many land animals, it is the main end product of the metabolism of nitrogen-containing compounds, and is excreted in the urine.

Animals produce urea in the urea cycle, as it is a safe way to get rid of excess nitrogen.

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Discovery Urea was discovered by Hilaire Rouelle in 1773. It was the first organic compound to be artificially synthesised in 1828 by Friedrich Woehler, who prepared it by the reaction of potassium cyanate[?] with ammonium sulfate[?]. This disproved the theory that the chemicals of living organisms are substantially different from inanimate matter and started the discipline of organic chemistry.

Industrial use Its principal industrial use is the manufacture of plastics (specifically, urea-formaldehyde resin).

It is also a component of many fertilisers, providing a nitrogen source that is necessary for plants.

other uses besides to be added

Laboratory use It is a powerful protein denaturant.

Medical significance Because urea is produced and excreted at a roughly constant rate, high levels of urea in the blood indicate a problem with the removal, or more rarely with the over-production, of urea in the body.

The most common cause of hyperuricaemia is renal problems. It is measured along with creatinine to indicate direct problems with the kidneys (e.g. chronic renal failure[?]) or secondary problems such as hypothyroidism.

Urea levels can also be increased in some malignant blood disorders, (e.g. leukaemia and multiple myeloma[?]). There are also rare inherited metabolic defects[?] that can cause hyperuricaemia.

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