Osteoarthritis (OA) is a progressive and debilitating joint disease that is expected to affect up to 25% of the population by 2040. One in ten is suffering from this debilitating joint disease. The prevalence of symptomatic knee OA is approximately 10% in men and 13% in women. Joint cartilages are eroded as the person ages, which lead to pain and stiffness.
Some medications and physical exercises can ease symptoms of osteoarthritis, once progressed to end stages the only option is surgical replacement of the joint. Stem cells were recently used to ease osteoarthritis in a small number preliminary trial with hopeful results. This achievement will pave the way for larger studies in recent future.
Krembil Research Institute, University Health Network in Toronto, Canada investigated potential use of stem cells to treat osteoarthritis of the knee to find out whether it might be possible to regenerate knee cartilage using mesenchymal stromal cells which can develop into a number of different cell types such as muscle, bone, and cartilage. They published their results in the journal STEM CELLS Translational Medicine.
The researchers recruited 12 participants with moderate-to-severe KOA and extracted MSCs from each person’s bone marrow. In this pilot study, one of the main aims was to understand what constituted a safe and viable dosage, so the researchers injected each participant with one of three different doses of MSCs. Over the next 12 months, the scientists followed the participants, assessing their progress using a battery of tests.
After the end of the year-long study, the team found that there was a significant reduction in pain and an increase in self-reported quality of life.
The participants tolerated all three doses well, and there were no serious adverse effects. Participants who received the highest doses experienced the most positive results.
There was a noteworthy reduction in inflammation within the knee joints of the cases, which is important because scientists now consider inflammation to be a vital cause of osteoarthritis. The authors wrote:
“Pro‐inflammatory monocytes/macrophages and interleukin-12 levels decreased in the synovial fluid after MSC injection.”
In fact, the authors believe that much of the pain relief might be due to this anti-inflammatory response, which was initiated by introduction stem cells into the joint spaces.