Osteoporosis is a common bone disease that occurs as a result of the body’s inability to create new bone as fast as the body is losing bone. Characterized by progressively weakened bones and decreased bone density over time, osteoporosis often results in fractures of the wrist, hip, or spine.
Currently, it is estimated that 10 million Americans have osteoporosis and an additional 44 million have low bone density considered significant enough to increase the risk of developing osteoporosis. Recent studies indicate that roughly 50% of women and 25% of men over the age of 50 will break a bone as a result of osteoporosis.
While traditional methods of managing osteoporosis include medication, regular participation in weight-bearing exercises, and eating a healthy diet, the condition cannot be cured through these current approaches. Recently, regenerative medicine, also known as stem cell therapy, has drawn attention as a potential new approach to regenerate bone tissue and as a way to treat osteoporosis.
Specific stem cells, known as mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), are widely considered to be the most promising of all stem cells for regenerative applications – primarily because of their anti-inflammatory, immune-privileged potential and less ethical concerns than other forms of stem cells.
In this review, Arjmand et al. consider all the currently known effects of stem cell-based therapies, including MSC-based therapy, in the treatment of osteoporosis. Several studies have confirmed the relationship between osteoporosis and a clear reduction in endogenous MSCs’ ability to proliferate, differentiate, and ultimately form new bone. Considering this, MSCs have been the most common type of stem cell investigated for the treatment of osteoporosis in both animal models and humans.
The authors point out several advantages of using MSCs in clinical models, including their accessibility and ease of harvesting, immunosuppressive outcomes, and ability to differentiate. Arjmand et al also highlight evidence that indicates MSCs to be effective in this application most likely as a result of their paracrine effects and their supporting regenerative microenvironment ability and not solely a result of their ability to differentiate. Considering these observed paracrine effects, the authors believe MSC transplantation could open a host of new opportunities for the treatment of osteoporosis.
This review concludes by calling for further studies into stem cell therapy as a potential treatment for osteoporosis specifically to understand the outcome and biodistribution of MSCs after transplantation and to further identify important bone loss signaling pathways and genes specific to each individual.
Source: “Prospect of Stem Cell Therapy and Regenerative Medicine in … – NCBI.” 3 Jul. 2020, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7347755/.
 “Learn What Osteoporosis Is and What It’s Caused by.” https://www.bonehealthandosteoporosis.org/patients/what-is-osteoporosis/. Accessed 1 Feb. 2023.