Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Stem cell source and donor's age have an impact on the therapeutic potential of adult stem cells

A research team from Denmark and Sweden released a study today where they compare the therapeutic potential of adipose-derived stem cells (ASCs) and mesenchymal stem cells for treating the damages induced after a heart attack. Their findings indicate that ASCs may have a greater capacity for reversing the aforementioned damages.

Previous published literature strongly suggests that both mesenchymal and adipose (fat) derived stem cells can be used for treating a myocardial infarction. However, in the vast majority of these studies, the stem cells used are isolated from young donors and are many times transplanted to immune-suppressed animals. Purpose of the study was to both compare ASCs versus MSCs and to examine if age plays a role in their healing capacity.

The researchers first extracted adipose tissue and bone marrow from a 84 year old ischemic patient and isolated ASCs and MSCs respectively. They then induced myocardial infarction to 45 rats, out of which 27 survived. The surviving rats were divided into three groups, which received intramyocardial injections of ASCs, MSCs and phosphate-buffered (placebo).

Picture explaining how a heart attack occurs
Heart attack diagram

The rats were reexamined after 30 days. It was found that both ASCs and MSCs had prevented left ventricular end diastolic dilatation. However, only the ASCs had led to an improvement in left ventricular ejection fraction. Additionally, neither of the stem cells induced any myocardial angiogenesis (blood vessel growth). The latter, when compared to other studies, indicates that donor age and overall health may have a significant impact in the therapeutic potential of adult stem cells in the treatment of myocardial infarction.

Dr. Trine Fink, the study's co-author made the following statement regarding their findings:

"While this study supported previous findings that ASCs are less prone to diminish in numbers and efficacy with ageing when compared to BMSCs, the characteristics of MSCs from elderly patients suffering from coronary atherosclerosis need to be determined"

A myocardial infarction (heart attack), occurs when blood flow to a part of the heart is blocked for a long enough time to result in heart muscle damage or death. Typically, heart attacks are caused by a blood clot that blocks one of the coronary arteries. Common symptoms of a heart attack include:
  • Nausea
  • Overall weakness 
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sudden retrosternal chest pain 
  • Sweating
  • Vomiting

Video explaining what a heart attack is

Jeppe Grøndahl Rasmussen, Ole Frøbert, Claus Holst-Hansen, Jens Kastrup, Ulrik Baandrup, Vladimir Zachar, Trine Fink, Ulf Simonsen (2013). COMPARISON OF HUMAN ADIPOSE-DERIVED STEM CELLS AND BONE MARROW-DERIVED STEM CELLS IN A MYOCARDIAL INFARCTION MODEL Cell Transplantation :

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