Stem Cells Work through Battery Recharge

by Chris Centeno, MD /

how do stem cells work

How do stem cells work? There are lots of things we know and perhaps one of the most interesting is that they offer a recharge to cells with dying batteries. Let’s review a new study that confirms in living animals what others have also shown in the lab.

The Basics of Cells and Cell Structure

At the most basic level, it’s important to understand that the human body is made up of interconnected body systems that function as one unified biological machine. Those body systems are made up of organs and other structures, which can be broken down further into tissues. And our tissues are made up of many different types of cells. From here, if zoom in close on our cells, they are made up of a variety of organelles (e.g., ribosomes, nucleus, endoplasmic reticulum, mitochondria, etc.), each with its own independent and collaborative functions.

Mitochondria and the Stem Cells That Can Repair Them

I referred to cell “batteries” in the title of this post. These batteries are the mitochondria. They are the power source inside each cell that, when healthy and fully charged, keep the cell functioning at peak performance. The fuel source for the mitochondria is the nutrients we consume in our food, which is then converted by the mitochondria into chemical energy for the cell. As with any battery, our cell batteries (our mitochondria) can lose power and die, and this often occurs as a result of damage to the cell or aging.

The body works in extraordinary ways, and it already has an inherent mechanism for helping to repair cells that have dying batteries. Mesenchymal stem cells, studies have shown, can transfer their healthy mitochondrial batteries to damaged cells. Our local stem cells are designed to track down those cells with damaged mitochondria. Once found, the stem cell will latch onto the damaged cell and then transfer its healthy, fully charged mitochondria into the unhealthy cell.  In other words, the mitochondria in the damaged cell are replaced by the mitochondria in the healthy stem cell, in essence repowering the dying cell. Watch my brief video below for a visual of this transfer.

A new study investigated the ability to use mitochondria transfer from mesenchymal stem cells specifically to repair endothelial cell damage that occurs due to a stroke. Let’s review what researchers found.

Transplanted Stem Cells Repair Stroke-Damaged Vessel Cells via Mitochondria Transfer

The new study set out to determine if stem cells transplanted into the affected cerebral vessels of rats would transfer their mitochondria into damaged endothelial cells (those cells that line the vessels) after a stroke. In prior studies, this is something that had only been accomplished in a lab setting.

The result? The transplanted stem cells did indeed transfer their healthy mitochondria into the damaged endothelial cells. How did the endothelial cells respond? The “battery” power of the cells in the stroke-damaged area improved significantly. This resulted in the enhanced formation of blood vessels, critical for healing, reduced volume of the cerebral infarction, and improvement of function.

What does this mean? We now have evidence from a living animal model of treatment that shows that what we knew was happening in the lab happens in the real world. This opens up a whole new area of thought in stem cell and regenerative medicine. Take for example an arthritic knee, where a patient may beleive that the most critical thing is to regrow new cartilage, but in reality, it may actually be that transferring new mitochondria into existing dying cartilage and joint maintenance cells is more important. This could explain why patients with severe arthritis often get great clinical results with stem cell treatment despite the procedure not generating new cartilage.

The upshot? The mitochondrial recharge is just one of the many fascinating ways stem cells likely work in our bodies. In fact, this could create a whole new breed of stem cell therapies with optimized abilities to help dying cells through mitochondrial transfer!

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11 thoughts on “Stem Cells Work through Battery Recharge

  1. Lynn Cole

    I love all the research you do. I think you should have reminded us that those stem cells need to be ‘live’. Lot of bad actors out there.

    1. Regenexx team

      Hi Lynn,
      Absolutely! Thanks!

  2. Paul Sedor

    I had stem cells injected, last April, and did not realize that, these fake, and fraudulent Chiropractic people, were allowed to fool the population , with their false claims , that Dr. Centeno, has depicteda 14, 000 lesson learned! I am in hopes, that I can recoup some money! If you are in Naples Florida, beware of Hiler Chiropractic!!

  3. Nora D Clemens

    Loved this article. As you stated, the fuel source for the mitochondria are the nutrients we consume in our food, which is then converted by the mitochondria into chemical energy for the cell.
    As a nutritionist, I fully understand that concept, thus mitochondria will not be able to recharge other cells batteries if they are not nourished properly.
    Nutrient dense diet + mitochondria = good battery chargers for the stem cells.

  4. terrence o'neill

    After reading Dr. Centeno’s excellent book Orfthopedics 2.O, and also Regenexx’s many excellent related web sites with data he’s collected and organized, etc., I was so impressed with his continued progress and analyses I decided to have him do the procedure last month, for my damaged right knee meniscus.
    Following the diet advice and exercises, I can already go up and down the stairs again with little bannister/arm assist, and it just keeps improving… looking forward to possible even some modest tennis. I reported my first changes on the Regenexx tracking system… and look forward to continuing the diet and exercises, and the anticipated further improvements.
    Thanks to Dr. Centeno, who is practicing medicine the way it should be done.

    1. Regenexx Team

      Thanks Terrence – Glad to hear you’re doing so well!

  5. Larry W Rouse

    I am 64 years old and had a very successful BMC procedure for my right knee 3 years ago. I lost most of my cartilage on one side of the joint. Since the procedure I have been able to run and even race occasionally. My 3 year X-ray showed no change, no further deterioration!

    I have noted that my knee had regained its ability to heal itself. There are, at times, renewed discomfort after over training or making some other mistake in my exercise program. When I take time off, stretch properly and do other standard things to allow the knee to recover, it always does!

    Here is my question: From your experience with your patients, will a later injection of stem cells ever be needed?

    1. Regenexx Team

      Hi Larry,
      Yes, generally we repeat this procedure every 2-7 years as the symptoms return.

  6. Sylvia Mock

    I’m wondering ifthis can be used for eye problems? Dry eye syndrome, cataracts, glaucoma, etc.
    Thanks!

    1. Regenexx Team

      Hi Sylvia,
      There is a good deal of research into using stem cells in ophthalmology. It’s also an area where good deal of caveat emptor is needed. Please see: https://regenexx.com/blog/three-patients-blinded-stem-cells/

  7. AllenTonya

    We learned that we had been scammed by reading Dr. Centeno’s articles, too! Thank you for taking the time to clarify, In great and relatable detail, many much needed distinctions to understand real stem cell potential vs the 361 FDA Registered HCTPs that are being sold by DCs and MDs telling patients that they are getting living stem cells! If you are in the Clearwater, FL area, avoid Physicians Wellness as they injected the now FDA ReCalled Product, Liveyon, into our family members and told us that they were living stem cells. One family member was serverly impacted, hospitalized and nearly died.

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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