Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for an estimated 50%-70% of dementia cases worldwide. Characterized by memory loss and cognitive impairment, AD is progressive, debilitating, and fatal. In addition, it’s estimated that new cases of AD around the globe are occurring at a staggering rate of 20 per minute with an established effective treatment yet to be discovered.
To date, research has demonstrated an advanced understanding of AD’s development and devastating – and eventually fatal – outcomes, but has only been able to identify drugs that intervene too late in the progression of the condition.
Considering that stem cells have a detailed and documented record of their ability of self-renewal, proliferation, differentiation, and transformation into different types of central nervous system neurons and glial cells and that they have been successful in AD animal models, it is believed that stem cells have the potential to treat patients with AD.
In reviewing the progress of stem cells as a potential therapeutic treatment for AD, Liu et al. call for new treatments, including the removal of toxic deposits and the ability to replace lost neurons to be developed and as a way to stimulate neural precursors, prevent nerve death, and enhance structural neural plasticity. The authors also review the pathophysiology of AD and the application prospect of related stem cells based on specific cell types.
Liu et al. point out that, although AD models using animal research have been demonstrated to be successful, animal research is difficult to translate into human trials, and, to date, none have been able to replicate the complex environment observed in the human brain. Considering this, the authors conclude that it is challenging, at best, to characterize the beneficial effects of stem cells in AD based solely on previously conducted animal models.
As a result of this review, the authors also conclude that while stem cells used in AD and animal models have achieved certain results, there are still several factors that require consideration. Among these factors is the fact that this type of stem cell therapy requires neurosurgical procedure and immunosuppression which contributes to ongoing concerns related to controlling the proliferation and differentiation of stem cells, the targeting of molecular markers, and the development of cell delivery systems.
The authors acknowledge that progression in the study of stem cells in AD applications should be made more efficient because of recent technological advances in stem cells, specifically using hydrogels, nano-technology, and light therapies to produce more efficient delivery of treatment.
While these advances should help, Liu et al. also point out that a number of obstacles, including uncertainty about the amyloid hypothesis, differing objectives related to preventing progression vs symptomatic treatment, and demonstrating the relationship between stem cell treatment and complete AD cure, still need to be addressed.
Considering the findings of this review, the authors conclude that stem cell therapy for AD carries enormous promise, but the successful application will most likely be dependent upon consistent early diagnosis of the condition in order to prevent further brain cell deterioration and will likely be combined with an administration of existing medication as a way to most effectively treat and/or prevent AD.
Breathwork is a form of mindfulness that offers several physical, mental, and spiritual benefits. Often, people develop the unconscious habit of shallow breathing, which can trigger stress in the body and simulate a fight-or-flight response.
Breathwork exercises use deep, diaphragmic breathing to increase oxygen and stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, reducing stress and calming the body and mind. Beginners can include breathwork in their daily lives in seven simple ways.
1. Diaphragm Breathing
Diaphragm breathing is a primary breathwork practice. Start by sitting or lying down. Rest one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. Slowly inhale using your nose and feel your belly rise. Next, let the breath out through your mouth and feel the belly soften.
2. Box Breathing
Box breathing follows a pattern of 4-4-4-4. Inhale, hold your breath, exhale, and pause, each on the count of four.
3. Alternate Nostril Controlled Breathing
This exercise focuses on breathing through one nostril at a time. Sitting upright, block your left nostril with your left thumb. Slowly breathe in through the right nostril, then release your hold on your left nostril and use your third finger to block your right nostril.
Pause at the top of your inhalation before exhaling through your left nostril. Pause again, then inhale through your left nostril, and switch your fingers again, this time closing your left nostril with your thumb.
4. Ocean-Sounding Breath
Also known as the Ujjayi breath, the ocean-sounding breath is a popular yoga technique to create an audible breath. Start by inhaling through the nose. As you slowly exhale, contract your throat to make a gentle ocean sound.
5. Four-Seven-Eight Breathing
A form of rhythmic breathing known as four-seven-eight breathing can relax the body, improve sleep, and offer mental and physical health benefits.
Sitting or lying down comfortably, inhale for four seconds. Hold the inhale for seven seconds before exhaling for eight seconds.
6. Pursed Lip Breathing
Pursed lip breathing slows the breath and corrects breathing patterns. Start by sitting comfortably, relaxing your neck and shoulders. Next, breathe in with your nose as you count to two, then purse your lips as you exhale through your mouth as you count to four.
7. Resonance Breathing
Resonance breathing intends to relax your body and mind while reducing anxiety.
Start lying down with your eyes closed. Gently breathe in through your nose with your mouth shut for six seconds. Don’t overfill your lungs. Exhale slowly over six seconds, gently allowing your breath to leave your body.
Whichever method you choose, incorporating breathwork into your daily routine can make a difference in your health.
Currently, it’s estimated that nearly 1.5 million Americans are living with type 1 diabetes (T1D), a number that is expected to increase to over 2 million by the year 2040. In the U.S. alone, healthcare costs and lost wages directly related to T1D currently exceed $16 billion per year.
While the most common treatment for T1D continues to be regular injections of insulin and is effective in improving hyperglycemia, the treatment has proven ineffective in removing autoimmunity and regenerating lost islets. Additionally, islet transplantation, a recent and experimental treatment option for T1D, has demonstrated its own set of issues, primarily poor immunosuppression and a limited supply of human islets.
The rapid progression and recent advances in stem cell therapy, including mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) therapy, have created interest in using stem cells to help manage the symptoms of T1D. In this review, Hai Wu reviewed the properties of MSCs and highlighted the progress of using MSCs in the potential treatment of T1D.
Diabetes clinics have demonstrated progress using depleting antibodies as a way to treat T1D, but continue to find remission to typically last for only a short period of time. Additionally, treatment with these antibodies has shown not to discriminate between different types of T cells, meaning even T cells involved in maintaining normal immune function are depleted; this phenomenon has been shown to contribute to other serious health complications.
In addition to the immunomodulatory effects demonstrated by MSCs, they have also shown the ability to recruit and increase the immunosuppressive cells of host immunity. Recent results from clinical trials have shown that just a single treatment with MSCs provided a lasting reversal of autoimmunity and improved glycemic control in subjects with T1D.
While these results demonstrate the potential of MSCs for a wide range of autoimmune diseases, Wu points out that the small sample size of these studies necessitates further clinical trials before considering approval for use in clinical applications.
Studies of human islets and human islet transplantation have been limited because of a shortage of pancreas donors. Although unable to be definitively demonstrated, and considering their ability to differentiate into other cell types, there is a hypothesis that MSCs can transdifferentiate to insulin-producing cells. While not yet fully understood, this hypothesis is further supported by the observation of crosstalk between MSCs and the pancreas in diabetic animals.
Other in vivo studies examining this relationship has produced mixed results. For example, Chen et al. (2004) were unsuccessful in attempts to transdifferentiate MSCs into insulin-producing cells in vitro. On the other hand, several studies, including those by Timper et al. (2006) and Chao et al. (2008) demonstrate the formation of islet-like clusters from in vitro cultured MSCs and the possibility of using MSCs as a source of human islets in vitro.
Despite these promising findings, the author highlights that most of these studies failed to generate sufficient amounts of islets required for human transplantation and long-term stability. However, Wu notes recent advances in tissue engineering, including biocompatible scaffolds, might better support in vitro generation of islets from MSCs.
The author concludes that MSCs can be isolated from multiple tissues, are easily expanded and genetically modified in vitro, and are well-tolerated in both animal and human studies – making them a good candidate for future cell therapy. On the other hand, stem cell therapy alone might not be enough to reverse the autoimmunity of T1D, and co-administration of immunosuppressive drugs may be necessary to prevent autoimmunity.
MSCs have shown great promise in the field of regenerative medicine. While stem cells used as a potential treatment for T1D appear generally safe, the author calls for future in-depth mechanistic studies to overcome the identified scientific and manufacturing hurdles and to better learn how cell therapy can be used to treat – and eventually cure – T1D.
Inflammation is your body’s response to injuries, damage, and certain health conditions. If something is wrong with a certain part of your body, you will likely experience some inflammation.
Usually, inflammation is a positive sign that you are healing and recovering. However, excessive inflammation can cause long-term health problems. Starting an anti-inflammatory diet is key to fighting off problematic health conditions.
Why Inflammation Matters
Without inflammation, your body would not be able to repair itself when it needs to. But with too much inflammation, you are at risk for chronic health problems. Your tissues and cells can become damaged from too much inflammation over time.
Your diet can add to or alleviate the inflammation you experience in your body. If you suffer from an inflammatory disorder, it is even more important to follow an anti-inflammatory diet to control your symptoms.
Some common inflammatory disorders include irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), autoimmune diseases, and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). If you have been diagnosed with one of these conditions, consider an anti-inflammatory diet to feel better and improve your overall well-being.
Foods That Fight Inflammation
Certain foods have chemical compounds that naturally modulate your body’s inflammatory responses. To fight against excessive inflammation, try adding some anti-inflammatory foods to your weekly menu. Incorporating even a few of these foods could make a difference in your overall health.
Try adding these foods and spices to your diet:
Leafy greens (spinach, kale, etc.)
Anti-inflammatory foods will help you maintain your health and prevent inflammation from damaging your healthy cells and tissues. With less inflammation in your body, you will likely feel a lot better.
Foods to Avoid
There are plenty of delicious, healthy foods that combat inflammation. Unfortunately, there are a few ingredients to avoid as well. Inflammatory ingredients and foods can give you more problems and worsen your symptoms.
Avoid the following ingredients to control inflammation:
Sweets, pastries, and breads
Highly processed cheeses
These foods can be harmful to your health. Avoid them, when possible, to prevent and treat inflammation.
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have demonstrated the ability to differentiate into a number of different cells; they also demonstrate immunomodulatory properties that have great potential for use as a stem cell-based therapeutic treatment option and for the treatment of autoimmune diseases – including rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
RA is a chronic and debilitating inflammatory disorder that not only affects the joints, muscles, and tendons, but also damages a number of other body systems, including the eyes, skin, lungs, heart, and blood vessels. It is estimated that roughly 1.5 million Americans are afflicted by RA. While the exact cause of RA is not yet fully understood, the condition is one of over 80 known autoimmune diseases occurring as a result of the immune system mistakenly attacking the body’s own healthy tissue.
Current treatment of RA primarily involves the use of steroids and antirheumatic drugs used primarily to manage associated symptoms of the condition, rather than treat the condition itself. These drugs are also commonly associated with a number of unwanted side effects with users often developing resistance to the medication after prolonged use.
Considering the relative ineffectiveness of drugs designed to treat RA and RA-associated symptoms, scientists have turned to investigate the use of MSC-based therapy as a potential treatment for RA.
As part of this investigation, Sarsenova et al. examined both conventional and modern RA treatment approaches, including MSC-based therapy, by examining the connection between these stem cells and the innate and adaptive immune systems. This review also evaluates recent preclinical and clinical approaches to enhancing the immunoregulatory properties of MSCs.
Through a number of in vitro studies, researchers have realized that MSCs have the ability to inhibit the proliferation of effector memory T cells which, in turn, prevents the proliferation of inflammatory cytokine production. Additionally, these studies have also demonstrated that MSCs are able to modulate functions of the innate immune system by inducting the inflammatory process and activating the adaptive immune system.
Preclinical studies have demonstrated the ability of MSCs to suppress inflammation both through interactions with cells of the immune system and through paracrine mechanisms. This has been demonstrated to be very important as cells of the innate immune system have been shown to have an important role in both the development and progression of RA.
While a number of clinical studies evaluating the effectiveness of MSC-based therapies for the treatment of RA were still ongoing at the time of publication, the nine completed studies primarily demonstrated that using MSCs for the treatment of RA is safe, well tolerated in both the short and long-term, and provides clinical improvements in RA patients.
Despite the many positive and promising outcomes observed through these clinical trials, the authors of this review also point out some limitations associated with the treatment of RA with MSCs. These limitations include many of the referenced studies lacking a placebo control, low enrollment in some studies, and a lack of optimal protocol (for both MSC sourcing and route of administration) for RA treatment with MSCs.
Considering these limitations, Sarsenova et al. point out the need for more well-defined and effective therapeutic windows for the treatment of RA with MSCs, including MSC priming to promote an anti-inflammatory phenotype, in a future study as a way to better understand the perceived benefits of a stem-cell therapy for the treatment of RA and other autoimmune diseases.
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