Stem Cell Infusions May Reduce Frailty as We Age, but Are They Necessary?

by Chris Centeno, MD /

You have many, many stem cells in your body. In fact, if you didn’t have them, you wouldn’t live long as they act as the “maintenance men” that help repair the damage that happens every day. While it’s true that the total number of stem cells in your body declines as you age, we’ve never been able to tie that to a poorer outcome from a stem cell procedure. Meaning that older patients don’t do any worse with these procedures than younger patients. Having said that, as we shift from active elderly to “old old,” it may make sense to infuse stem cells to help repopulate a rapidly declining number of cells. This is what happened in a recent small human trial of stem cell therapy.

Frailty as We Age

As a physician, I see many types of patients who are beyond retirement age. First, I see the impressive, very active elderly. They’re still out there riding bikes for many miles, hiking strenuous paths, pumping iron, or mastering their downward dog in yoga. Then there’s the inactive but healthy elderly. They aren’t taking care of themselves, but nothing big has gone south yet, and they can still do much of what they once did. Finally, there’s what I call the “old old.” Their bodies have shifted into a much lower gear. These patients typically have some amount of dementia, can do very little, and need help just getting by day to day. From a stem cell standpoint, while the first two types of elderly have a lower number than they did when they were young, they have enough to maintain their bodies. In addition, they tend to do just as well with orthopedic stem cell procedures as their younger counterparts.

The “old old” are also called “frail” by physicians. Frailty syndrome is a multisystem clinical condition that is associated with an increased risk of everything from chronic falls to death. Genetics, of course, has a lot to do with how we age, and so does our own personal lifestyle—diet, exercise, and so on. All of these and more can play into frailty as we age.

Key signs often found in frailty syndrome in aging are inflammation and a weakened immune system, evidenced by markers found in blood work. Symptoms often include physical declines, such as weakening of grip strength; cognitive declines, such as difficulty processing calculations; and/or endurance declines, such as energy loss (e.g., you used to be able to walk two laps around the block, but now you can barely manage one).

Small Study Investigates the Effects of Donor Stem Cells in Elderly Frail Subjects

Phase 1 of the new study looked at both the safety and effectiveness of using donor (allogeneic) adult mesenchymal stem cells as a therapy in elderly subjects for “aging frailty.” The study consisted of 15 elderly frail subjects who underwent an intravenous (IV) infusion of the bone marrow-derived stem cells (five received 20-million cells, five received 100-million cells, and five received 200-million cells). The results among all three groups included an increase in walking distance (10% farther during a six-minute walk), a decrease in an inflammatory marker (TNF-a), and no significant immune reactions to the donor tissue. Subjects who received 100-million cells had the best outcomes and experienced improvements in many of their frailty symptoms.

There was a phase 2 randomized controlled trial expansion of the study in which 30 “aging frail” subjects were randomized into three groups: one receiving 100 million cells, one receiving 200 million cells, and a placebo (control) group.  In this one, only the 100-million group increased their distance on the six-minute walk and showed a decrease in the inflammatory marker TNF-a. Self-assessments in this same group also showed improvements in frailty syndrome. The study concluded the importance of following this small study with larger clinical trials.

Can Amniotic and Cord Stem Cell Products Replace My Lost Stem Cells?

While the focus of our feature study today was on the effect of bone marrow stem cell treatment on frailty syndrome with aging, I have to mention amniotic and cord “stem cell” therapy because of how aggressively marketed these “stem cells” are to older patients. Please know that amniotic and/or cord stem cell therapy is a scam! We have tested these products, and the Interventional Orthopedics Foundation has tested these products, and Amniotic and cord-blood products do not contain live and functional stem cells. Learn more about these marketing scams in my video below:

The upshot? If you’re part of the active elderly, you don’t need any donor stem cells. You also don’t likely need to have your own stem cells infused IV, as from a safety standpoint, it will be many years before we know that this is safe. However, it is interesting to see that the “old old” may one day benefit from stem cell infusions!

Category: Latest News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

6 thoughts on “Stem Cell Infusions May Reduce Frailty as We Age, but Are They Necessary?

  1. Dan Curtis

    I have right shoulder issue. I am 63 yrs old and the cartilidge is gone. I still pretty good movement with shoulder. Can stem cell help me. Thanks Dan

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Dan,
      We treat severe shoulder arthritis regularly. The fact that you still have good movement is a good sign. If you’d like to see if you’d be a Candidate for a shoulder procedure, please submit the Candidate form here: https://regenexx.com/the-regenexx-procedures/shoulder-surgery-alternative/

  2. Darrell Crayton

    Hey sir! My knees are in bad shape. Bone on bone, Not too much cartridge and I have arthritis in both medial meniscus. Can stem cell take the pain away and let me continue to coach football? Please advise. I’m ready if it will work.

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Darrell,
      Those are issues we treat regularly, however, all patients go through a Candidacy Evaluation. If you’d like to see if you’d be a Candidate please submit the Candidate form. Please see: https://regenexx.com/the-regenexx-procedures/knee-surgery-alternative/ and https://regenexx.com/blog/knee-arthritis-stem-cell-treatment/

  3. Russ Delaney

    I thought I read in previous blogs or ebooks that intravenous stem cell injections get caught in the lungs and very little cells make it to the target area intended for treatment. Does this small study indicate otherwise? Am I mistaken about the lungs?

    1. Chris Centeno Post author

      Yes, these cells are initially trapped in the lungs.

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.
View Profile

Get Blog Updates by Email

Get fresh updates and insights from Regenexx delivered straight to your inbox.

Regenerative procedures are commonly used to treat musculoskelatal trauma, overuse injuries, and degenerative issues, including failed surgeries.
Select Your Problem Area
Shoulder

Shoulder

Many Shoulder and Rotator Cuff injuries are good candidates for regenerative treatments. Before considering shoulder arthroscopy or shoulder replacement, consider an evaluation of your condition with a regenerative treatment specialist.

  • Rotator Cuff Tears and Tendinitis
  • Shoulder Instability
  • SLAP Tear / Labral Tears
  • Shoulder Arthritis
  • Other Degenerative Conditions & Overuse Injuries
Learn More
Cervical Spine

Spine

Many spine injuries and degenerative conditions are good candidates for regenerative treatments and there are a number of studies showing promising results in treating a wide range of spine problems. Spine surgery should be a last resort for anyone, due to the cascade of negative effects it can have on the areas surrounding the surgery. And epidural steroid injections are problematic due to their long-term negative impact on bone density.

  • Herniated, Bulging, Protruding Discs
  • Degenerative Disc Disease
  • SI Joint Syndrome
  • Sciatica
  • Pinched Nerves and General Back Pain
  • And more
Learn More
Knee

Knees

Knees are the target of many common sports injuries. Sadly, they are also the target of a number of surgeries that research has frequently shown to be ineffective or minimally effective. Knee arthritis can also be a common cause for aging athletes to abandon the sports and activities they love. Regenerative procedures can be used to treat a wide range of knee injuries and conditions. They can even be used to reduce pain and delay knee replacement for more severe arthritis.

  • Knee Meniscus Tears
  • Knee ACL Tears
  • Knee Instability
  • Knee Osteoarthritis
  • Other Knee Ligaments / Tendons & Overuse Injuries
  • And more
Learn More
Lower Spine

Spine

Many spine injuries and degenerative conditions are good candidates for regenerative treatments and there are a number of studies showing promising results in treating a wide range of spine problems. Spine surgery should be a last resort for anyone, due to the cascade of negative effects it can have on the areas surrounding the surgery. And epidural steroid injections are problematic due to their long-term negative impact on bone density.

  • Herniated, Bulging, Protruding Discs
  • Degenerative Disc Disease
  • SI Joint Syndrome
  • Sciatica
  • Pinched Nerves and General Back Pain
  • And more
Learn More
Hand & Wrist

Hand & Wrist

Hand and wrist injuries and arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and conditions relating to overuse of the thumb, are good candidates for regenerative treatments. Before considering surgery, consider an evaluation of your condition with a regenerative treatment specialist.
  • Hand and Wrist Arthritis
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Trigger Finger
  • Thumb Arthritis (Basal Joint, CMC, Gamer’s Thumb, Texting Thumb)
  • Other conditions that cause pain
Learn More
Elbow

Elbow

Most injuries of the elbow’s tendons and ligaments, as well as arthritis, can be treated non-surgically with regenerative procedures.

  • Golfer’s elbow & Tennis elbow
  • Arthritis
  • Ulnar collateral ligament wear (common in baseball pitchers)
  • And more
Learn More
Hip

Hip

Hip injuries and degenerative conditions become more common with age. Do to the nature of the joint, it’s not quite as easy to injure as a knee, but it can take a beating and pain often develops over time. Whether a hip condition is acute or degenerative, regenerative procedures can help reduce pain and may help heal injured tissue, without the complications of invasive surgical hip procedures.

  • Labral Tear
  • Hip Arthritis
  • Hip Bursitis
  • Hip Sprain, Tendonitis or Inflammation
  • Hip Instability
Learn More
Foot & Ankle

Foot & Ankle

Foot and ankle injuries are common in athletes. These injuries can often benefit from non-surgical regenerative treatments. Before considering surgery, consider an evaluation of your condition with a regenerative treatment specialist.
  • Ankle Arthritis
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Ligament sprains or tears
  • Other conditions that cause pain
Learn More

Is Regenexx Right For You?

Request a free Regenexx Info Packet

REGENEXX WEBINARS

Learn about the #1 Stem Cell & Platelet Procedures for treating arthritis, common joint injuries & spine pain.

Join a Webinar

RECEIVE BLOG ARTICLES BY EMAIL

Get fresh updates and insights from Regenexx delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to the Blog

FOLLOW US

Copyright © Regenexx 2019. All rights reserved. | Privacy Policy

*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.