Cirrhosis is a serious and often a life-threatening condition. It’s characterized by replacement of liver tissue with scar tissue due to persistent necrotic and inflammatory damage to the liver and its’ attempts to repair itself.
The longer cirrhosis goes undiagnosed and untreated, the more extensive is the damage. The final stage of the condition requires a liver transplant, in itself a very expensive procedure with a lot of potential complications.
Alternatives to conventional management of cirrhosis
There’s now an extensive history of research and practical application and introduction of donor hepatocytes (functional liver cells) into the liver parenchyma of patients to successfully halt progression of cirrhosis. However, this shouldn’t be attempted if the liver damage is too great.
Unfortunately, there are still a number of issues with liver cell transplants, such as:
- A lack of donors.
- Rejection of transplants (however, when detected early, it is easily treatable).
- Relatively low rate of survival for cell transplants (around 30%)
- Often, also an inability to maintain and increase hepatocyte count
We believe that the solution to these problems is in mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs).
Advantages of MSCs:
- They are easy to extract and grow.
- They’re less expensive than hepatocyte transplants
- No risk of cancer compared to embryonic stem cells
- Repeated injections boost the response and improve the outcome
- Zero possibility of rejection due to usage of patient’s own stem cells.
MSCs have certain features that allow them to be used as treatment and/or therapy of various disorders and conditions, including disorders of the liver. They are able to differentiate themselves into various types of cells, including hepatocytes.
Results of experiments have shown that, when injected intravenously, mesenchymal stem cells embed themselves into the liver, differentiating into fully functional liver cells, thus restoring the damage that might’ve caused by deleterious processes.
Furthermore, MSCs produce cytokines and growth factors which suppress inflammation, thus reducing the rate of incidence of liver fibrosis, which is the underlying mechanism behind occurrence of cirrhosis.
MSCs are able to migrate to precise locations of inflammation after they are re-introduced into the patient’s body. This is due to special receptors similar to those present in leukocytes, that prompt the cells to move to the locations with accumulation of chemokines.
MSCs are also able to inhibit proliferation of hepatic stellate cells, as they usually serve as markers of underlying inflammatory processes in the liver, fibrosis in particular.
Mesenchymal stem cell therapy is an effective and safe way to manage liver conditions.