Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory condition in which the immune system attacks healthy joint tissue. This abnormal immune response leads to inflammation, fluid buildup, swelling, and discomfort in the joints. RA is a chronic condition for which there is no cure, and due to the progressive nature of the disease, symptoms often worsen over time.
Current treatments for RA involve controlling the immune response to prevent further damage and alleviating joint pain. Yet, oftentimes, existing therapies fail to mitigate the damage joints have already sustained. Some research has been finding that there may be potential therapeutic effects with regenerative medicine, also known as stem cell therapy for Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Stem Cell Therapy for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Stem cells are the building blocks of virtually all specialized cells and tissue in the body. They can transform into many different cell types, and have regenerative and anti-inflammatory properties. Medical researchers have been exploring ways to leverage these powerful cells to help manage symptoms for autoimmune conditions, including Rheumatoid Arthritis.
As the cartilage between bones becomes inflamed and wears away, the joint and surrounding bone can become damaged, too. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) can develop into bone and cartilage tissue, and when isolated and injected into affected joints, could help repair damage caused by RA.
Since RA is an inflammatory disease, it can lead to health issues beyond joint damage. Systemic inflammation, fever, weight loss, muscle weakness, and diseases of the heart and lungs can also occur over time. For this reason, combatting the widespread inflammation that occurs with the disease is critically important. According to research, MSCs can control inflammation by increasing regulatory T cells (RTCs), which help to prevent the immune system from attacking healthy tissue.
Additional study results have shown significantly lower levels of blood markers which indicate RA at one- and three-year intervals after stem cell therapy. In these trials, patients received intravenous infusions of MSCs to treat the systemic inflammation associated with RA. In addition to reduced body-wide inflammation, patients also experienced a reduction in symptoms and improvements in physical function.
Although there still has yet to be a definitive cure for RA, stem cell therapy has been researched as a potential option to:
- Reduce joint inflammation and stiffness
- Increase range of motion
- Improve energy levels and reduce fatigue
- Minimize joint pain and swelling
For patients interested in exploring new treatment options, MSCs may enhance a patient’s quality of life and alleviate some of the condition’s most debilitating symptoms. Contact a Care Coordinator today for a free assessment!