Thursday, 7 February 2013

Mesenchymal stem cells may extend the lifespan of transplanted kidneys

Researchers from the Leiden University Medical Centre just released the results of a stem cell Phase 1  clinical trial on patients that had previously received a kidney transplant, due to end-stage renal failure. Although the short-term results of kidney transplantation can be considered to be outstanding the same cannot be said for the long term results, as their viability greatly decreases with the passing of time. The main reason behind this is fibrosis (the formation of excess scar tissue) and purpose of the study was to examine whether or not mesenchymal stem cells can be a solution to this problem.

Marlies Reinders, the study's chief author, explains that mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have immuno-suppressive and regenerative properties which no one else before has explored their potential on reversing the effects of rejection and fibrosis involved in organ transplantation.

During the study, a total of 15 kidney recipients of all sexes and ages (18-70 years of age) participated. In the end, six of them were given two intravenous infusions containing a total of around 1 million autologous MSCs. The cells were collected from bone marrow and the patients were monitored for the following 6 months.

Image of a Kidney cross section
Kidney cross section

According to the study, the MSCs were well tolerated in all cases with no adverse effects being reported, although three of the patients did develop infections associated with immune suppression.

Although the findings are relatively inconclusive Ton Rabelink, the study's corresponding author, says that this is the first study to indicate that MSCs may have the potential to prevent organ rejection and fibrosis, adding that further follow up is required to better understand the treatment and to monitor any adverse effects that may have yet to emerge.

According to Anthony Atala, editor at Stem Cells Translational Medicine, the study's findings are very promising and indicate that MSCs may have great immunosuppression capacity.

Renal failure (also known as kidney failure) is a medical condition in which the kidneys fail to filter the blood's waste products. It usually is the result of acute kidney injury or occurs due to some type of chronic kidney disease.

Explanatory video about renal failure

MARLIES E.J. REINDERS, JOHAN W. DE FIJTER, HELENE ROELOFS, INGEBORG M. BAJEMA, DOROTTYA K. DE VRIES, ALEXANDER F. SCHAAPHERDER, FRANS H.J. CLAAS, PAULA P.M.C. VAN MIERT, DAVE L. ROELEN, CEES VAN KOOTEN, WILLEM E. FIBBE, & TON J. RABELINK (2013). Autologous Bone Marrow-Derived Mesenchymal Stromal Cells for the Treatment of Allograft Rejection After Renal Transplantation: Results of a Phase I Study. Stem Cells Translational Medicine

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