A group of researchers in China who have recently observed positive effects of stem cells on patients with rheumatoid arthritis have now conducted an experiment that helps clarify exactly how these stem cells may contribute to improved symptoms in this particular patient population. The group uses umbilical cord stem cells, which are stem cells that have demonstrated immune regulatory functions because the immune system is implicated in rheumatoid arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis is characterized by inflammation and subsequent damage to the joints. The synovium is a type of connective tissue located in synovial joints like knees and elbows and is where the majority of the inflammation occurs. A specific protein, called cadherin-11 that is present in some of the cells in the lining of the synovium has been hypothesized to be an important culprit in rheumatoid arthritis because the protein can lead to inflammation and thus destruction of bones and cartilage.
The researchers decided to test whether umbilical cord stem cells may have an impact on cadherin-11, as such an impact could help explain how these cells help patients with rheumatoid arthritis. They therefore looked at fibrolast-like synoviocytes, the cells that express cadherin-11 in the lining of the synovium, in both patients with rheumatoid arthritis and patients with osteopathic arthritis. Because osteopathic arthritis does not involve the same kind of destruction to the synovium that rheumatoid arthritis does, the researchers expected to find less cadherin-11 in the fibroblast-like synoviocytes of the patients with osteopathic arthritis.
Not only did the researchers find, as suspected, that cadherin-11 levels were higher in the fibroblast-like synoviocytes of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, compared to those with osteopathic arthritis, but they also found that umbilical cord stem cells suppressed the cadherin-11 levels in the fibroblast-like synoviocytes from rheumatoid arthritis patients.
These results point to a potential mechanism by which umbilical cord stem cells reduce inflammation and improve symptoms in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Additionally, they provide important information on how to develop treatments that will specifically target the cause of rheumatoid arthritis.
Stem cells are showing promising results for treating Rheumatoid Arthritis. Learn about it here.
Specifically, the umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells were able to inhibit the proliferation of fibrolast-like synoviocytes cells from rheumatoid arthritis patients. These fibroblast-like synoviocytes are critical components of rheumatoid arthritis. In addition, the umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells reduced levels of cells that promote inflammation and increase the levels of those that fight inflammation.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, meaning that the immune system of those who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis starts to attack the patient’s own body because it mistakenly perceives the body’s own cells as harmful foreign agents. The disease specifically involves the T-cells of the immune system and mainly attacks synovial joints like the knees and elbows.
Stem cells have been proposed to help with the treatment of a number of diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis. Because the current approaches for treating rheumatoid arthritis are expensive and none of them lead to long-term remission, new treatment options are actively sought. There has been evidence to suggest that bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells can help with rheumatoid arthritis, but recently, researchers theorized that umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells may have its own advantages for the use in treating the disease.
The idea for using umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells arose because of the ability of these cells to suppress the immune system. Specifically, these cells have been shown to affect the number of active T-cells, making them an appropriate candidate for opposing the physiological basis of rheumatoid arthritis.
The current study made strides in the technical use of umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells for treating rheumatoid arthritis and also provided evidence that these cells are particularly well-suited for this particular purpose. Specifically, the umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells were able to inhibit the proliferation of fibrolast-like synoviocytes cells from rheumatoid arthritis patients. These fibroblast-like synoviocytes are critical components of rheumatoid arthritis. In addition, the umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells reduced levels of cells that promote inflammation and increase the levels of those that fight inflammation. Finally, these cells also reduced the severity of the disease in a model of arthritis.
These promising results highlight the potential of umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells in medicine – and particularly their potential to aid in the development of treatment options for rheumatoid arthritis. Further research will likely help clarify exactly how these cells can be used in the disease and to what extent they can help rheumatoid arthritis patients.
To find out more about the new research clarifying how stem cells help Rheumatoid Arthritis patients, click here.
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