Durham, NC (PRWEB) June 06, 2012
How a certain type of stem cell mobilizes in the circulation system of older people to repair damage from a heart attack or even to fight the aging process itself could hold the key to treating cardiac and other age-related diseases, according to a new study by researchers at Showa University in Japan.
In the June issue of STEM CELLS Translational Medicine, the researchers detail how, for the first time, they were able to home in on a protein called CD271 found on mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) and track the cells’ activity.
“Our study demonstrates that the circulating MSCs are recruited into the blood stream after a heart attack. This suggests that if we can enhance the mobilization of circulating MSCs, it could lead to a new therapeutic strategy for age-related diseases,” said lead investigator Dr. Yoshitaka Iso. He and his research team work at the university hospitals in Tokyo and Yokohama.
Most stem cells currently used in treating patients with cardiovascular disease come from adult bone marrow. Bone marrow contains both hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), which evolve into blood cells, and mesenchymal stem cells, which can differentiate into a variety of cell types. Earlier studies have demonstrated that after a heart attack the body releases HSCs into the blood stream to help it heal. Research also has documented the promise of MSCs in repairing damage from a heart attack, but until the Iso study there was no reliable way to track the MSCs. As a result, little was known about their importance in the healing process. But the Iso investigation suggests that the MSCs are mobilized apart from the HSCs and may play their own specific role in the tissue repair process.
Iso’s team next examined the presence of MSCs in people at different ages. What they learned there also has exciting implications. They found that while the level of HSCs decreases with age, the level of MSCs circulating in the blood stream appears to remain constant throughout the aging process.
This suggests that MSCs may play a large role in helping the body repair itself and in maintaining the integrity of their tissue as people age.
The full article, “Distinct Mobilization of Circulating CD271+ Mesenchymal Progenitors from Hematopoietic Progenitors during Aging and after Myocardial Infarction,” can be accessed at: http://www.stemcellstm.com.