Restenosis is a pathologically extreme inflammatory condition which results in the narrowing of blood vessels, and as such is commonly associated with endothelial damage. Worldwide, restenosis remains a frequent problem following vascular injury. Now, researchers in Italy have used mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) that were derived from bone marrow to treat restenosis in rats.
The study was conducted by a team of scientists led by Dr. Amalia Forte in the Department of Experimental Medicine at the Excellence Research Center for Cardiovascular Diseases at the Second University of Naples in Italy. After performing carotid arteriotomies in rats, the researchers intravenously administered approximately 5 million allogeneic MSCs derived from bone marrow to each rat, after which the cells were then found to “home in” on the injured carotids but not on the uninjured carotids, thereby preventing narrowing of the injured arteries during the duration of the treatment, which lasted 30 days. Specifically, the lumen area in the MSC-treated carotids was measured to be a statistically significant 36% greater than in the uninjured, control arteries. Not only did the allogeneic MSCs limit stenosis in the injured carotid arteries, but the MSCs were also found to exhibit local immunomodulatory action which resulted in a decrease of inflammatory cytokines.
Such a combination of desirable properties – namely, a natural homing ability to the injured tissue, prevention of further narrowing in the injured artery, local immunomodulatory action and a lessening of inflammation – makes MSCs a promising therapy for the treatment of such diseases in humans.