Placenta Stem Cells Could Prevent Diabetes Complications

Critical limb ischemia (CLI), otherwise known as “diabetic foot,” is a condition that results from poor blood flow in people with diabetes. Often times, this condition ultimately leads to amputation of the limb.

But the discovery of a Chinese research team could lead to prevention of diabetic foot problems, and could even improve diabetic foot syndrome in those who already have it.

The Study

This study and it's results will be published in full in an upcoming issue of Cell Transplantation, but an early report is currently available online. According to this report, researchers collected placentas from women who had undergone full-term cesarean sections (the women, it is important to add, gave written permission for their placentas to bu used in the study).

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Then, the team extracted mesenchymal stem cells, or MSCs, from the placenta. They injected the MSCs into rats, monitoring their health compared to rats without the injection. Remarkably, the rats who had been injected showed improved blood flow and enhanced blood vessel growth, which researchers believe could prevent the onset of CLI.

"We believe that cytokines secreted by MSCs attract endothelial cells, a type of cells that make up the tissues lining the interior surface of blood vessels," said the researchers. "These cells participate in building new vascular tissues and also inhibit inflammation."

How Can This Help Me?

In their report, these researchers make it clear that they hope to introduce MSC treatment to the diabetes community. "So far, MSC therapy represents a simple, safe and effective therapeutic approach for diabetes and its complications," they said. "Our studies lay the groundwork for the transition from the experimental bench to the clinical bedside."

And as diabetes diagnoses continues to grow across the globe, a safe and effective treatment might become more and more necessary. As Dr. Maria Carolina Oliveira Rodrigues, section editor of Cell Transplantation, reminds us, "Diabetes is becoming more prevalent across the globe and stem cell therapy may be a vital approach to serious vascular complications."

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