This is a pretty dense article, but I can boil it down too a few sentences: Mesenchymal stem cells (MSC’s) are really a sort of “medicinal signaling cell” in our body. Their means of communication is chemical signaling. There is a lot of “cross talk” in the chemical soup between MSC’s and our immune system. “Inflammation” is really important to get stem cells activated and jump starting regenerative activities. But, just as no one likes TOO much coffee in the morning, TOO much inflammation is not good for tissue repair. So MSC’s modulate inflammation when inflammation levels get too high. They are, themselves, anti-inflammatory….

“…Interestingly, MSCs have been demonstrated to suppress an immune response through licensing by combinations of pro-inflammatory cytokines, specifically IFNγ in combination with TNFα or IL-1, leading to the concept of bidirectional interaction between MSCs and inflammation.5 Under inflammatory conditions, ample amounts of growth factors produced by MSCs can facilitate tissue repair through their effects on endothelial cells and fibroblasts, as well as tissue progenitor cells, at sites of damaged tissue. Such concerted actions of MSCs on tissue repair have been termed as ‘cell empowerment’.6 “

Thus, MSC’s are master orchestrators. They are “large and in charge” of tissue repair and healing throughout our body. In an Aristotelian sense, the “first question” is not how do stem cells work, but “why don’t some injuries heal?”Perhaps answering that question will help us understand a lot more about how to use stem cells in Regenerative Medicine than studying MSC’s themselves …

“…Over the several years, studies using different experimental systems have repeatedly confirmed that various kinds of immune cells, including macrophages, T cells and mast cells, actively participate in the tissue repair or regeneration process.12 The two studies described above provide direct support for the importance of the cross-talk between inflammation and stem cells in directing the fate and behavior of stem cells during tissue regeneration. Further investigations in the newly emerging field of stem cell immunology (Figure 1) should greatly improve our understanding of the effects of immune cells and their inflammatory factors, which fluctuate considerably in the microenvironment of a tissue lesion, on the proliferation, activation and immunoregulatory capacity of stem cells. It is anticipated that, in the foreseeable future, details about the interaction between stem cells and immune responses, and their collective actions during tissue repair, will accelerate the development of novel strategies of regenerative medicine.”

Like everything other system in the human body, tissue repair depends upon homeostasis. MSC’s appear to “manage” the process of tissue repair and regeneration on multiple levels. Overall health status and other host factors play an important role in setting the limits of what kind of repair is possible. MSC’s are the accelerators. So, if you’re feeling stuck, frustrated, or stymied by lack of healing or a festering injury we might be able to help. The experts at Columbia Pain Management, PC can help you get back on the road to recovery.

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