The Research: Steroids Hammer Stem Cells!

By /

Steroids are widely used in Orthopedic care like water, sprinkled here and there for good measure in arthritis and surgical procedures alike. We’ve known for sometime that these high dose steroids are horrible for cartilage and other cells, but there hasn’t been much published on how they impact stem cells. A recent study adds to the research base and it shows that steroids wipe out stem cells.

The steroid craze began in the 1950s with the isolation of cortisone from the adrenal gland. The drug was initially expensive, but cheaper synthesis methods helped the price to drop from $200 a gram to less than fifty cents a gram by 1980. The steroids we’re talking about here are corticosteroids, cousins of the type of steroids body builders use (anabolic steroids). Corticosteroids like cortisone are potent anti-inflammatories, but they also inhibit healing. In addition, as cellular biology became more common in the 90s, scientists began to see that the milligram doses that were produced by these cheap synthesis processes where about 1,000,000 times too high for the body’s cells. In fact, your cells are used to seeing naturally produced corticosteroids in the nanogram to picogram range. How much is a nanogram when compared to the milligram dose commonly used in medicine? If the height of a matchbook represented a nanogram, the height of the Empire State Building would be one milligram!

The big problem in modern orthopedics is that the message that scientists have been publishing since the 1990s has yet to make it to the average practitioner. So the average physician injecting steroids into joints or epidurals or peddling steroid pills for acute back pain isn’t aware how damaging these high doses are to the body. As one example, a recent study showed a frightening increase in a serious bone disease called ostenecrosis with even short-term use of oral steroids. In fact, the average doctor who has taken a weekend course on how to inject stem cells also isn’t aware of this issue. To expand on that last point, how damaging are steroids to stem cells?

The study looked at mesenchymal stem cells, the type most commonly used to treat orthopedic conditions. The cells were exposed to various commonly available commercial types of steroids at different doses. For betamethasone and triamcinolone, two commonly used steroids in orthopedics, just 25% and 75% of the usual clinical dose wiped out all stem cells. It took the full strength of dexamethasone and methylprednisolone to wipe out all cells.

The upshot? The usual doses of steroids kill stem cells. Having said that, we routinely see physicians who don’t know any better using steroids in close proximity to stem cells, all but guaranteeing that the stem cells will be DOA!

Join us for a free Regenexx webinar.

If you have questions or comments about this blog post, please email us at [email protected]

NOTE: This blog post provides general information to help the reader better understand regenerative medicine, musculoskeletal health, and related subjects. All content provided in this blog, website, or any linked materials, including text, graphics, images, patient profiles, outcomes, and information, are not intended and should not be considered or used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please always consult with a professional and certified healthcare provider to discuss if a treatment is right for you.

Get Blog Updates by Email

By submitting the form, you are agreeing that you read and consent to our Privacy Policy. We may also contact you via email, phone, and other electronic means to communicate information about our products and services. We do not sell, or share your information to third party vendors.

Category: Latest News
Copyright © Regenexx 2021. All rights reserved.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Address

9035 Wadsworth Pkwy #1000
Westminster, CO 80021

Phone

*DISCLAIMER: Like all medical procedures, Regenexx® Procedures have a success and failure rate. Patient reviews and testimonials on this site should not be interpreted as a statement on the effectiveness of our treatments for anyone else.

Providers listed on the Regenexx website are for informational purposes only and are not a recommendation from Regenexx for a specific provider or a guarantee of the outcome of any treatment you receive.

LinkedIn
Email
TO TOP