Stem Cells: Guardians of Inflammation
Very interesting research article out this week that posits that mensenchymal stem cells (MSCs-the type used by the Regenexx family of procedures) are the body’s “Guardians” of inflammation. In modern medicine we have traditionally only thought of inflammation as bad and anti-inflammatories (which wipe out inflammation) as good. This is very over-simplified. As an example, our use of MSCs for the last 6 years has led us to the conclusion that in addition to stem cells as repairmen they modulate inflammation, meaning they can turn it up or down as the situation warrants. Since inflammation is how we heal ourselves, this is a good thing. The new research study discusses that MSC can guard and react to the inflammatory response in three ways. First, they excrete chemicals that control swelling, second they respond to inflammatory chemicals in their environment by excreting anti-inflammatory factors, and last they excrete growth factors that tell other cells to dump anti-inflammatory chemicals into the area (in this case macrophages). The upshot? MSCs are more than just a dumb brick being placed into a wall because they can differentiate into another cell type to repair an area. Instead, think of them as the general contractor of the repair response!