Monday, 25 March 2013

Amniotic stem cells treat rats with necrotising enterocolitis

In a new study funded by the Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity, researchers from the UCL Institute of Child Health have successfully used stem cells derived from amniotic fluid to treat necrotizing enterocolitis in a rodent model. The researchers believe that their study paves the way for new, cell-based therapies for treating this, many times lethal, condition.

During the study, the researchers, led by Paolo De Coppi, experimented on three groups of rats with necrotizing enterocolitis. The first group, received stem cells extracted from amniotic fluid. The second group, received mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) derived from bone marrow and the third group received no treatment (control group).

Radiograph of an infant with necrotizing enterocolitis

According to the study's findings, the amniotic stem cell therapy greatly increased the survival rate of the treated rats. Further examination revealed for the first group:
  • Improved intestinal function
  • Decreased bowel inflammation
  • Reduced apoptosis (cell death)
  • The gut's self-renewal capacity was enchanced

The researchers say that the transplanted amniotic stem cells didn't help by directly regenerating the diseased tissue. Instead, after being injected they first moved into the intestinal villi which are small, finger-like projections, 0.5-1.6 mm long, protruding from the epithelial lining of the intestinal wall. From there, they most probably released various growth factors which induced the native gut progenitor cells to reduce the inflammation and start forming new tissue.

Micrograph of the small intestine mucosa showing intestinal villi

Paolo De Coppi said that it as a known fact that stem cells have "anti-inflammatory effects", however this is the first study on amniotic stem cells showing their potential in repairing intestine damage.

"In the future, we hope that stem cells found in amniotic fluid will be used more widely in therapies and in research, particularly for the treatment of congenital malformations. Although amniotic fluid stem cells have a more limited capacity to develop into different cell types than those from the embryo, they nevertheless show promise for many parts of the body including the liver, muscle and nervous system." said Coppi

Simon Eaton, senior author, added that more research is still needed before starting any clinical applications

"Once we have a better understanding of the mechanisms by which AFS cells trigger repair and restore function in the gut, we can start to explore new cellular or pharmacological therapies for infants with necrotizing enterocolitis." 

Necrotizing enterocolitis  is a medical condition primarily seen in premature infants, where portions of the bowel undergo necrosis (tissue death). It is estimated that the condition affects 1 in 2,000-4,000 newborns, is considered to be the most common and serious gastrointestinal disorder in premature infants. The condition usually appears during the first 2 weeks of life.

Informational video about Necrotizing enterocolitis

Zani, A., Cananzi, M., Fascetti-Leon, F., Lauriti, G., Smith, V., Bollini, S., Ghionzoli, M., D'Arrigo, A., Pozzobon, M., Piccoli, M., Hicks, A., Wells, J., Siow, B., Sebire, N., Bishop, C., Leon, A., Atala, A., Lythgoe, M., Pierro, A., Eaton, S., & De Coppi, P. (2013). Amniotic fluid stem cells improve survival and enhance repair of damaged intestine in necrotising enterocolitis via a COX-2 dependent mechanism Gut DOI: 10.1136/gutjnl-2012-303735

1 comment:

  1. Just wanted to tell your article is as astounding. !


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