Mesenchyme Stem Cells and Their Role in Regenerative Medicine
The use of mesenchyme stem cells (MSCs) for healing the body is becoming more and more popular, and the benefits that this treatment option offers can play a huge role in joint health. For joint problems, such as ligament injuries, cartilage breakdown and tears, and osteoarthritis, many of the treatment options available focus on reducing the negative symptoms or attempt to fix the problems through surgical procedures that usually involve joint replacement. However, mesenchyme stem cell therapy provides an alternative, less invasive treatment option that can have many positive effects.
How Mesenchyme Stem Cells are Used in Regenerative Medicine
MSCs are multipotent cells, meaning that they can change into other types of cells, such as osteoblasts and chondrocytes. These cells work to create new bone and new cartilage respectively. MSCs are especially useful in regenerative medicine because they have the ability to self-renew.
Self-renewal is the ability for cells to multiply and divide many times while still maintaining their same identity and functionality. This ability allows for MSCs to be replicated in controlled environments so that they can then be implanted back into the body to stimulate growth in needed areas.
The process of extracting bone marrow is quite simple, and further separating the MSCs from the liquid marrow is also a fairly easy process. After this occurs, MSCs can be replicated to reach the required amount, and then they can be used to rebuild tissues in areas throughout the body, most commonly in the knees, hips, and shoulders.
How Stem Cells are Extracted
MSCs are extracted directly from your own bone marrow. Bone marrow is responsible for producing new red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. It is found inside the larger bones in our body, such as the breastbone, hips, and ribs. Most blood marrow extractions are performed using the back of the hip bone.
The process of extracting the bone marrow is known as a bone marrow aspiration. This procedure generally involves numbing the surrounding area, and then inserting a needle into the bone. The required amount of liquid marrow will then be removed. This process is minimally invasive and is often associated with only minor pain.
The marrow can then be centrifuged, which causes the various cell types in the liquid to separate from one another. This allows the MSCs to be isolated from the other cells. The isolated stem cells can then be replicated, creating a larger population that can be used for medicinal purposes.
Injuries and Diseases that can be Treated
MSCs can be used to repair a number of different injuries and diseases in various parts of the body.
Osteoarthritis is a common degenerative disorder that causes the cartilage on the ends of bones to wear down over time, and it affects up to 80 percent of adults over the age of 65. This disorder can cause joint pain, stiffness, tenderness, and a loss of flexibility. It can also result in the formation of bone spurs, which are physical bone growths that can affect joint mobility.
Since osteoarthritis affects the cartilage on the ends of bones, some MSC treatment options involve differentiating the isolated stem cells into chondrocytes. These cells can then be directly injected into the articular cartilage of the affected joints. Studies have shown that these injections can reduce pain, improve joint movement, and increase cartilage thickness.
Knee Ligament Injuries and Shoulder Ligament Injuries
Knee ligament injuries and shoulder ligament injuries are both fairly common, especially for individuals who are physically active. Ligaments are often difficult and slow to heal. The healing process often produces a lot of swelling, and the reconstructed tissue is often weaker than it was originally.
However, using MSCs has been shown to significantly improve the healing process. Studies have shown that injecting MSCs into the affected site can significantly decrease inflammation levels, help to increase production of new blood vessels, reduce scar tissue formation, control immune system response, and support other stem cells. It also helps to improve the healing process and creates a stronger, more functional tissue. MSCs can effectively communicate with surrounding cells and provide many therapeutic benefits, which helps to improve the regeneration process.
Knee and Hip Cartilage Injuries
The cartilage in your hip and knee joints has to deal with a lot of daily wear and tear. They have to absorb your entire body’s forces every time you walk or stand. These forces become even greater during physical activity, such as running, weightlifting, or playing sports. In the hip, cartilage is found on the end of the femur, being articular cartilage, and around the edge of the joint to hold your femur in place, known as the labrum. In the knee, cartilage is found on the distal end of the femur, which is also articular cartilage, and on top of the tibia, which is called the meniscus. The breakdown of these can lead to knee and hip cartilage injuries and cause joint pain and osteoarthritis.
Since MSCs can be converted into chondrocytes, or cartilage building cells, they can be a great way to heal issues to these areas. When the cartilage is damaged, it is known as a lesion. The severity of lesions varies from being simply a soft spot in the cartilage to a full tear down to the bone. When articular cartilage is damaged and heals, it often is less slippery and thinner, which can limit joint movement. Injecting MSCs directly into the damaged cartilage can create hyaline-like cartilage, restoring much of the previous function. With regard to meniscus injuries, using MSCs along with arthroscopic surgery showed increased cartilage regrowth and thickness.
Mesenchyme stem cells can have many benefits when it comes to regenerative medicine. These stem cells can be obtained easily and can differentiate into many different types of cells, helping to improve tissue healing, relieve joint pain, and restore overall joint function after an injury.