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Stem cells bring fast direct improvement, without differentiation, in acute renal failure

fused with MSC either immediately or 24 hours after reperfusion had significantly better renal function, lower renal injury and cell-death scores, and higher cell division indices than vehicle-treated control animals," the paper stated. Indeed, administration after 24 hours of more severe ARF had an even greater beneficial effect.

Based on utilization of several genomic and nongenomic cell-tagging techniques, the researchers were able to follow the stem cells as they circulated through the renal microcirculation of two different strains of rats used in the experiments. "Although we did not detect transdifferentiation events during the 72-hour period of observation, it is possible that cell transdifferentiation and integration may be important at later states of organ repair," the study noted.

The Utah team used MSC for several reasons, notably the fact that they can be harvested easily from bone marrow, isolated, grown in culture and genetically engineered. To test that MSC subsequently used in these studies retained their phenotype after being cultured, the researchers routinely tested whether their characteristic potential to differentiate into fat and bone cells was preserved.

The researchers conceded that it "is surprising that the very transient presence of MSC in the injured kidney, as we document, is sufficient to greatly ameliorate the course" of I/R ARF and also note that the rat model of ARF used in the study is "a suitable if somewhat imperfect model of the most common and the most treatment-resistant type of human ischemic ARF."

Next steps

  • Current studies are investigating the collective and individual renoprotective capacity of cytokines temporarily released by MSC.

  • Two clinical efforts are planned. First will be a compassionate study in Europe next year in patients with complicated bone marrow transplants, a setting where such stem cells already are approved for use. If successful, a
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15-Aug-2005


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