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Blood Pressure Drugs and Stem cells: Our Advanced Lab Data

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blood pressure drugs and stem cells

Blood pressure drugs and stem cells?  Having an advanced culture facility for stem cells, we can look at things like whether certain medications adversely impact stem cells. We’ve seen many medications that seem to have a negative impact, but one that stood out was a certain class of blood pressure medications known as ACE inhibitors. A very commonly prescribed generic drug of this class is Lisinopril and several years ago it seemed to be everywhere (the drug went generic). About the same time we noted a suspicious rash of a few patients having difficulty culturing cells. When we tracked it down, it seemed these few patients had one thing in common, they all were on this new generic blood pressure drug. When we took the patients off the blood pressure drug and recultured their cells, their stem cells grew fine in culture. On an experimental basis when we exposed their serum (with the blood pressure drug) to normal healthy stem cells, the cells also had a hard time growing. Conversely, when we took the patient’s cells and grew them in serum without the drug the cells would grow well. So it wasn’t a big surprise this week when I came across this study showing an association between these blood pressure drugs and bone loss. Believe it or not, your bones need mesenchymal stem cells to stay healthy. Think of these cells as the maintenance men of the bones-fixing small amounts of damage to keep your bones repaired and strong. What happens when you take a drug that harms the stem cells in your bone? Your bones get weaker from less repairmen fixing the small damage that happens everyday. A good example of this is the recent research showing that patients taking steroids (which harm the stem cells in cartilage and bone) have more of a specific bone disease known as osteonecrosis. The upshot? Certain drugs will harm your stem cells. Since this is a new therapy, only those with advanced lab facilities can provide a list of medications you should avoid.

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