Researchers in Cairo have successfully demonstrated the ability of adult stem cells derived from bone marrow to treat cardiac dysfunction that is secondary to diabetes in a rat model.
Previously, adult mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) derived from bone marrow have already been used for the treatment of a number of non-hematopoietic diseases, such as for various cardiac, liver and kidney conditions, among other ailments. Now, however, Dr. Abdel Aziz and his colleagues in the Department of Medical Biochemistry in the Faculty of Medicine at Cairo University have published the results of a study investigating the effects of MSCs on cardiovascular complications resulting from Type 1 diabetes in rats. The study is unique because it is the first of its kind to offer an adult stem cell treatment for chronic cardiac dysfunction, which is significantly different from cardiac dysfunction that is caused by an acute event such as a heart attack. Following an acute cardiac event or injury, the body normally releases therapeutic chemokines which stimulate the homing action of endogenous stem cells and which also play a role in enhancing the efficacy of exogenously administered stem cells. In the current study, such naturally occurring chemokines and their corresponding healing action were not part of the therapy.
In the study, MSCs were derived from the bone marrow of male albino rats and infused into female diabetic rats. Serum insulin, glucose and fibrinogen were estimated and physiological cardiovascular functions such as heart rate and systolic blood pressure were assessed by a Langendorff apparatus. At the conclusion of the study, not only had cardiac and diabetic conditions both improved, but Y-chromosome positive cells were found in the both the cardiac and pancreatic tissue of the female recipient rats, demonstrating that the observable therapeutic effects were in fact the result of the male stem cells.
As Dr. Aziz and his colleagues concluded, “Rat bone marrow harbors cells that have the capacity to differentiate into functional insulin-producing cells capable of controlling blood glucose levels in diabetic rats. This may provide a source of cell-based therapy for diabetes mellitus. Furthermore, MSC transplantation can improve cardiac function in diabetes mellitus.”