Mesenchymal stem cell therapies for autoimmune diseases
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs):
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are a type of adult stem cell that can differentiate into a variety of cell types, including osteoblasts (bone cells), chondrocytes (cartilage cells), and adipocytes (fat cells). They are found in many tissues in the body, including bone marrow, fat tissue, and the umbilical cord. MSCs can self-renew and regenerate, making them attractive for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. In addition to their potential for use in treating various diseases, MSCs are also being studied for their immunomodulatory properties, which may make them useful in treating autoimmune disorders and inflammatory conditions.
Read also: Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). Where do they come from, and is it important.
What are Autoimmune Diseases?
Autoimmune diseases are a group of disorders in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells and tissues. The immune system is normally responsible for protecting the body from infections and other harmful substances. However, in people with autoimmune diseases, the immune system mistakes the body’s cells and tissues for foreign invaders and attacks them.
There are more than 80 different autoimmune diseases that can affect any part of the body. Some common autoimmune diseases include:
Rheumatoid arthritis: a chronic inflammatory disorder that affects the joints
Multiple sclerosis: a neurological disorder that affects the central nervous system
Type 1 diabetes: a condition in which the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin
Psoriasis: a skin condition that causes cells to build up rapidly on the surface of the skin
Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease affecting the skin, joints, and organs.
Symptoms of autoimmune diseases can vary widely, and they may come and go over time. Some people with autoimmune diseases may experience only mild symptoms, while others may have severe symptoms that can significantly affect their quality of life. There is no cure for autoimmune diseases, but treatment can help to control symptoms and prevent complications.
What are the symptoms of autoimmune diseases?
There are over 80 known autoimmune diseases, some of which have very similar symptoms. This makes it difficult for doctors to determine whether a patient has one of these diseases or which one they have.
An autoimmune disease is characterized by inflammation, which causes pain, redness, increased temperature, and swelling. Many autoimmune diseases have similar early symptoms, which may include:
- Muscle ache
- Low body temperature
- Lack of attention
- Numbness and tingling in hands and feet
- Hair loss
- Skin rashes
- Swelling of joints and other tissues
Furthermore, each disease may have its own set of symptoms. Type 1 diabetes, for example, causes excessive thirst, weight loss, urination, inflammatory bowel disease, abdominal pain, bloating, and diarrhea.
Some autoimmune diseases, such as psoriasis or rheumatoid arthritis, cause symptoms to worsen or disappear gradually.
Mesenchymal stem cells for autoimmune diseases:
The body’s immune system misidentifies healthy cells as foreign and unwanted in autoimmune diseases. Over 80 different types of autoimmune diseases have been identified. Treatment strategies for autoimmune disorders are based on relieving symptoms and preventing complications. In other words, there is currently no effective and valuable therapy. It is well known that mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have immunomodulatory properties. MSCs could be used as a novel treatment modality for autoimmune diseases. A few preclinical and clinical studies suggest that MSCs can help with autoimmune disorders.
Interestingly, it has been discovered that MSCs’ beneficial effects in autoimmune disorders do not rely solely on direct cell-to-cell communication but also on their ability to produce a wide range of paracrine factors such as growth factors, cytokines, and extracellular vehicles (EVs). EVs are multi-signal messengers that contribute significantly to intercellular signalling by transporting cargo such as mRNA, miRNA, and proteins. Several studies have demonstrated that MSC-derived EVs can mimic the effects of the cell of origin on immune cells.
In this review, we discuss the most recent studies on MSC-based therapies in autoimmune diseases as well as provide a vision and highlights for introducing MSC-derived EVs as an alternative and emerging modality for autoimmune disorders.