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STEM CELLS AS ANTI-AGING THERAPY

Inflammation in the body is associated with the development of many chronic diseases. Aging itself is associated with inflammation, as can be shown by the measurement of well researched inflammatory markers known to become elevated as we age. Although there is no cure for aging, reducing and controlling underlying inflammation may be a crucial element in the fight to slow down the aging process. As a practical matter we must answer the question of how we can  modulate the effects of inflammation on aging in an effort to maintain healthy aging. Stem cells offer alternative approaches for treating various disorders. The use of stem cells as immune system modulators has shown tremendous promise. Some studies have demonstrated that intravenous infusions of stem cells may reduce inflammatory responses while increasing the natural anti-inflammatory responses the body possesses. This creates a scientific basis to see stem cell therapies as an anti-aging modality.

Clinical studies using stem cells in autoimmune and other inflammatory diseases have demonstrated that they can promote a healthful modulation of the body’s inflammatory response. Since both general aging and chronic diseases are associated with inflammation, the use of stem cells as anti-aging therapies may offer a method of slowing down the varied phenomena associated with aging and the body’s general decline which is characteristic of aging. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23283436/

Aging is associated with a decline in the body’s ability to maintain homeostasis. One of the most important homeostatic mechanisms we possess is those processes which control inflammation, which is a necessary healing response of the body in certain situations but becomes a deleterious response when the inflammation is uncontrolled, and is the predominant factor in many disease states. Inflammation’s effect on the development of disease states has been studied extensively. Many studies have shown strong evidence that elevated levels of pro-inflammatory markers raise the risk of many diseases, as well as promote aging and disability. Some of the inflammatory markers most researched with confirmation of these associations are C-reactive protein, interleukin-6, and tumor necrosis factor. It has been established that there is a clear correlation between elevation of these markers and chronic diseases of aging such as cognitive decline, cardiovascular disease, general frailty and physical disability.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21145432/

Aging is also associated with increased development of cancer. Various phenomena that occur with age are also associated with the development of cancer, such as DNA and mitochondrial damage. These along with the accumulation of free radical damage are felt to be an important part of the development of clinically detectable cancers. Various stressors of the body over time result in the generation of dysfunctional metabolic processes. With continued exposure to these stressors and the subsequent inflammatory responses which accompany them, organs lose optimal functionality and also their structural integrity, and play an integral part in the development of chronic disease. This phenomenon is noted in the development of arthritis, atherosclerosis, cancer, dementia and many other conditions.

 While all of the mechanisms involved with the aging process are not fully understood, inflammation clearly plays a major role, inextricably linking inflammation and aging. Levels of inflammatory mediators typically increase with age even in the absence of overt disease and that accelerates the aging process. The susceptibility to diseases and death increases as a result of age-related changes in most physiological systems. Molecular inflammation is an important biological component of aging, and monitoring the molecules that mediate inflammation may be useful to assess the aging process. Monitoring blood levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) and interleukin-6 may give us a better understanding of the aging process. Higher circulating levels of TNF-α and IL-6, even in healthy elderly populations, can predict mortality independent of other associated factors of illness. It appears that the inflammatory response appears to be a common triggering mechanism that promotes tissue damage and associated age-related diseases.

Chronic low-grade inflammation plays a role in dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease. In the Health ABC study, it was found that study subjects  who had increased levels of C-reactive protein and  IL-6 performed poorly on cognitive tests and had a greater risk of cognitive decline than those with lower levels of these markers. The fact that levels of these markers are elevated before the onset of clinical symptoms suggests that these markers may be ideal to measure in patients who are asymptomatic and at high-risk in order to be able to intervene at an earlier stage of development of disease when treatment may be more effective.

 Many large studies including The Rotterdam Study, CHS, Nurses’ Health Study, WHIOS, and WHS have all reported that an increased level of C-Reactive Protein (CRP) is a predictor of type 2 diabetes.

Inflammatory markers are also associated with the risk of heart failure. Many studies in cardiovascular disease have shown that CRP is a predictor of heart failure. Other predictors of cardiovascular disease in the elderly, such as the pro-inflammatory markers IL-6 and TNF-α. have also been documented. Of these three markers the association was the greatest with IL-6. Along with heart failure, increased levels of circulating pro-inflammatory markers were associated with the progression of atherosclerosis and peripheral artery disease. For peripheral artery disease (PAD)  strong associations were found for the markers fibrinogen, CRP, and IL-6.

https://www.amjmed.com/article/S0002-9343(99)00066-2/fulltext

Chronic low-grade inflammation plays a critical role in frailty. The term Frailty Syndrome refers to the increased vulnerability to stress and disability that comes with old age. It is characterized by a decline in strength and unintended weight loss. Patients with frailty syndrome develop slow walking speed, a decline in physical activity, and an increased risk of injury due to falls. This may lead to more frequent hospitalizations, and increased mortality.

A major component of frailty is sarcopenia (age-related loss of muscle mass, strength, and function). People with the higher IL-6 levels are more likely to develop mobility problems, and they will be shown to have lower muscle mass and strength.  https://pure.johnshopkins.edu/en/publications/serum-il-6-level-and-the-development-of-disability-in-older-perso-4

Data from the Women’s Health and Aging Study (WHAS) shows that higher levels of IL-6 are associated with a decline in walking ability and an increased risk of developing physical disabilities. The MacArthur Studies of Successful Aging also documents the correlation between elevated CRP and IL-6 levels with poor performance on walking speed and grip strength tests. This leads us to the conclusion that inflammation is related to the development of Frailty Syndrome. Many studies of the elderly population confirm that elevated inflammatory markers can be utilized as predictors of mortality.

As these markers are not predictive of  a specific disease process or cause of death they can be seen as characteristic of the aging process itself. As there is no cure for aging, the task we face is how to favorably impact the effects of inflammation on aging in order to maintain healthy aging.

In an article entitled “Stem Cells Targeting Inflammation as Potential Anti-aging Strategies and Therapies”, Dr Rafael Gonzalez reviews the positive impact of stem cells on the body’s inflammatory responses. This suggests a future where stem cell treatments play a greater role in bringing Anti-aging Medicine to the forefront of the fight to combat aging and disability. Read more here… https://www.proquest.com/openview/93923e541bcb4bd189c243e3a6a567d1/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=1026409

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