In recent years, research into how stem cells can be used to improve heart health has been growing. Stem cells appear to be particularly promising for helping to repair damage to the heart because stem cells can help to rebuild tissue that has been injured or destroyed.
As it becomes more and more clear that stem cells offer therapeutic options, it also becomes more important to understand how stem cells work so that therapies can be strategically developed and optimized. A recent study helped to clarify how certain stem cells can be mobilized.
The researchers hypothesized that hyperbaric oxygen would mobilize bone marrow-derived stem/progenitor cells through a nitric oxide-dependent mechanism. Nitric oxide is known to have a role in mobilizing bone marrow-derived stem/progenitor cells through the release of a cytokine. The researchers’ hypothesis stemmed from the fact that hyperbaric oxygen can activate the protein that makes nitric oxide.
Data from the study showed that hyperbaric oxygen did indeed mobilize bone marrow-derived stem/progenitor cells. They also found that the number of bone marrow-derived stem/progenitor cells in patients’ blood was higher during hyperbaric oxygen treatments. However, exposure to radiation limited the response to hyperbaric oxygen.
Interestingly, some of the researchers’ clinical data were inconsistent with the results of their basic science studies. Thus, further research is needed to fully understand the best ways to mobilize stem cells and improve their likelihood of being therapeutically valuable.