Does Age Affect Stem Cell Treatment Success?

by Chris Centeno, MD /

Does your age impact stem cell treatment success? We’ve looked long and hard through the years for this association, but it’s been, for the most part, elusive. We’ve published a number of scientific papers on the topic, but now a group of chiropractors is fabricating from thin air a narrative about age and stem cells. Despite using dead amniotic tissue and fraudulently claiming that it’s a live stem cell product, they’re claiming that one must use young stem cells in older patients. Is there any truth to this assertion?

What Is a Stem Cell Registry?

Does age affect stem cell treatment success?  In order to answer that question, let’s first let’s define a stem cell registry. A registry, in general, tracks patients at targeted time points starting prior to a procedure for many years after. In a registry, validated functional questionnaires track patients’ outcomes, and complications or side effects are also recorded. In the world of orthopedics, they exist for knee and hip replacements as well as other surgical procedures, but registries also exist in many other areas of medicine, such as cancer registries and trauma registries.

A stem cell registry, such as the Interventional Orthopedics Foundation Registry, provides the same useful data and outcome information for stem cell providers and their patients. With the ultimate goal of improving patient outcomes and quality of treatment, stem cell registry data can also help providers determine which stem cell treatment strategies would be best for further research, which is imperative in the investigative field of orthopedic stem cells.

Does Age Affect Stem Cell Treatment? Registry Data and Published Research

Through years of collecting stem cell registry data on our patients, we’ve looked for a relationship between age and poor outcomes. Without registry outcomes to show otherwise, it would be easy to assume that since older patients have fewer and aging stem cells, treatments using their own stem cells would show poorer outcomes. However, based on our registry data, which is currently about 10,000 patients deep, and our own research publications, that relationship largely doesn’t exist. For example, in knee stem cell treatments, we found no correlation between age and outcome when comparing age groups (i.e., ≤50 years, 51–60 years, and >60 years).

Does age affect stem cell treatment success in treating orthopedic conditions?  No.This means that older patients do just as well as younger patients with a precise injection of their own stem cells. In fact, the only exception to this that we’ve seen so far is with hip arthritis, where we found that patients ≤ 55 years old were more likely to report greater than 50% improvement. Poorer hip-arthritis outcomes here, however, seem to be as much related to older age as to the severity of the arthritis on X-ray or MRI.

Believe in Your Own Stem Cells

Despite the published research, there are sales reps pushing dead amniotic or cord-blood tissue and falsely claiming these processed and packaged products are live stem cells, and there are chiropractors and other providers out there selling this lie to their patients. Taking this scam a step further, these same groups are claiming that young stem cells are needed for older patients.

Obviously, a young and dead stem cell is not more biologically active than an older live stem cell. Why? A dead cell is a dead cell, old or young. In addition, we tested the idea of whether the young tissue in these amniotic products could help older stem cells. We were really excited about this possibility. However, in the end, our lab research demonstrated that these younger amniotic tissues were more harmful than helpful to older stem cells.

The upshot? Dead amniotic cells are not magic pixie dust that suddenly spring to life when they’re injected, so don’t believe the amniotic scams. However, also realize that these procedures aren’t magic. They have a success and failure rate just like any other procedure. Also realize that our research shows that, for the most part, age doesn’t define that bright line between success and failure.

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6 thoughts on “Does Age Affect Stem Cell Treatment Success?

  1. Donna Lipson

    I am 71 yrs old (female) and in perfect health except for hip arthritis. I had autologous stem cell treatment 2 wks ago. I’m taking 100 mg tramadol plus 1000 mg acetominephen twice a day. How long do you think it will be to see some improvement? Thx. I love your blog.

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Donna,
      Thanks! What type of autologous stem cell treatment was this?

  2. Jacqueline Adams

    How does the success or failure rates in your stem cell procedures for knees compare to total knee replacements for decreasing pain and increasing mobility? And how long does the improvement in decreased pain and increased mobility last with your method of stem cell injections? Thank you.
    Jackie

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Jacqueline,
      It fairs very well. The main point is that a knee replacement should always be the last resort. Instead of a series of injections, it is the amputation of the knee joint and the insertion of a prosthesis and is therefore irreversible. It is a surgery whose most common complication is ongoing pain, and has a significant risk profile. These will give you the type of information you’re looking for: https://regenexx.com/our-approach/surgical-risks/ https://regenexx.com/blog/knee-replacement-after-stem-cell-treatment/ and https://regenexx.com/blog/knee-replacements-not-performed-younger-patients/ and https://regenexx.com/blog/4-year-knee-stem-cell-procedure-update-amazing-patients/ All that said, no medical procedure works all the time, so if someone tells you theirs does, or if they tell you it will grow a new knee…run!

  3. John cronin

    I have emphysema and copd can you help me please will stem cell repair my lungs

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      John,
      Sorry we can’t help as we treat exclusively Orthopedic injury and conditions. But we would also caution you that Clinics that claim to treat many unrelated conditions often do not have the training or technology to treat them. Please see: https://regenexx.com/blog/how-to-find-good-stem-cell-treatment/

Chris Centeno, MD

Regenexx Founder

Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications.
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