09 November 2017

Treatment of diabetes complications

In a new study by a group of scientists from the University of Illinois, it was found that the introduction of muscle tissue stem cells to mice leads to the growth of newly formed vessels, improved blood circulation and restoration of the functions of the affected limbs. Stem cells also induce gene expression of surrounding tissue cells, causing the release of factors that suppress inflammation and improve microcirculation.

Violation of peripheral blood circulation is a formidable complication of diabetes mellitus, which can lead to the formation of non–healing ulcers on the legs, in severe cases ending with amputation of the affected part of the limb. It is very difficult to diagnose it in time, since patients notice changes already at late stages. In this condition, there is a narrowing of the arteries of the lower extremities – ischemia, accompanied by pain and restriction of movement.

There are few methods of treating peripheral artery disease, among the therapeutic ones is the appointment of drugs that improve perfusion, but they are practically not effective. Experts also recommend physical exercises, but not everyone can perform them (it is difficult, painful, impossible due to concomitant diseases). Some patients are shown to perform vascular operations (stent placement or bypass surgery).

Angiogenesis (formation of new vessels) is a complex process of interaction between proteins and various growth factors. That is why, according to the authors, the advantage lies with stem cell treatment: the process is the closest to natural, the cells independently decide which proteins and in what quantity to synthesize.

In the study, mice with diabetes mellitus had the artery lumen of one of the hind legs surgically narrowed, thus simulating peripheral artery disease. Then they were divided into two groups; the experimental group was injected with muscle stem cells from young mice, the control group was injected with a saline solution. Blood flow was assessed using positron emission tomography.


In mice with limb ischemia receiving stem cell injections, angiogenic processes similar to those of healthy animals were observed. Image courtesy of W. Lawrence Dobrucki.

Stem cells contributed to the growth of new vessels, increased peripheral perfusion and improved muscle function. New vessels formed in response to ischemia.

The researchers also analyzed gene expression and found that in the experimental group of mice, gene expression in the paw with peripheral artery disease was the same as in the healthy one. Unlike mice treated with saline solution, the mice of the experimental group had active genes that eliminated complications of diabetes, and, for example, the genes responsible for inflammation were not active.

Stem cell treatment can be indicated for patients with severe diabetes, when physical exercises cannot be performed, and other methods of treatment do not help. The authors hope that it will help to avoid the need for amputation.

The researchers plan to identify a subpopulation of muscle stem cells, the introduction of which would help most effectively. It is also necessary to study how long they are active after entering the patient's body, how the immune system will react to their presence.

The authors are trying to find a non-cellular approach to treatment so that it is possible to isolate the necessary recovery and growth factors from cells and choose their optimal combination. Unlike direct administration of stem cells, the introduction of such a drug will not cause an undesirable reaction of the immune system.

Article by Jamila Hedhli et al. Multimodal Assessment of Mesenchymal Stem Cell Therapy for Diabetic Vascular Complications published in the journal Theranostics.

Aminat Adzhieva, portal "Eternal Youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru based on the materials of the Illinois News Bureau: Stem cells from muscle could address diabetes-related circulation problems.

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