Stem Cells Targeting Inflammation as Potential Anti-aging Strategies and Therapies
Human aging is associated with a vast array of clinical disorders that all relate to the body’s inability to maintain homeostasis. In our bodies, the healing process requires tight control of the acute inflammatory response. When the levels of inflammatory markers such as interleukin-6, tumor necrosis factor alpha, and C-reactive protein are elevated, there is a direct correlation with several chronic diseases of aging such as cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline, and physical disability. Extensive studies have shown strong evidence that elevated levels of these pro-inflammatory mediators may predict disease and disability in the aging population. As there is no cure for aging, a key question is how to modulate the effects of inflammation on aging and how to maintain healthy aging. Stem cells offer alternative approaches for treating various diseases/disorders. The use of stem cells as immune system modulators has shown tremendous promise. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have specific immunomodulatory properties that may help control inflammation. Several animal studies demonstrate that intravenous infusions of MSCs can decrease the pro-inflammatory response while increasing the anti-inflammatory response. Moreover, human clinical studies using MSCs in autoimmune and other inflammatory diseases have demonstrated modulation of the inflammatory response. Therefore, the use of stem cells as anti-aging therapies may offer many an alternative method of slowing down or deterring several of the detrimental aspects of aging.