Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a chronic inflammatory issue of the large intestine, also known as the colon. The inflammation is characterized by the development of ulcers, or open sores, in the inner lining of the colon. Ulcerative colitis typically affects the lower part of the colon, but it can also involve the entire length of the organ. Ulcerative colitis is believed to be caused by a combination of environmental and genetic factors.
The symptoms of ulcerative colitis can range from mild to severe and can include abdominal pain, diarrhea, fatigue, and weight loss. The disease can also cause anemia, malnutrition, and dehydration. In severe cases, ulcerative colitis can lead to life-threatening issues such as intestinal bleeding or perforation. While there is no cure for ulcerative colitis, treatment focuses on managing the symptoms and preventing flares.
In some cases of ulcerative colitis, patients do not respond to treatment. This outcome can be due to a number of factors, including the severity of the disease, the type of medication being used, and the patient’s individual response to the medication. In some cases, certain factors may be responsible for the lack of response to treatment.
Stem cell therapy is an exciting new treatment for ulcerative colitis, a chronic condition that affects the large intestine. Unlike other treatments, stem cell therapy targets the root cause of the disease by repairing and regenerating damaged tissue. Although more research is needed, stem cell therapy offers hope for ulcerative colitis patients who have not had success with other treatments.
A study, Safety and therapeutic effect of mesenchymal stem cell infusion on moderate to severe ulcerative colitis, looked into the potential of stem cell therapy for patients who are suffering from UC.
Results of the Study
The use of MSCs has been found to be beneficial in patients with UC. In this study, thirty-four individuals who were awaiting surgery or other treatments for their condition received stem cell therapy alongside the base treatment they would receive anyway. The study took place from September 2011 and December 2021. The researchers enrolled a total of 80 patients with UC.
The patients were randomly divided into two groups. One group was treated with stem cell infusions injected via interventional catheterization and veins in the back of the hand. This group received two infusions of stem cells a week apart. The other group received saline injections. The goal of the study was to determine the safety of this treatment for UC patients. Six patients withdrew from the stem cell therapy group, and four patients withdrew from the control group.
The researchers were also interested in determining the effectiveness of the treatment by Inflammatory Bowel Disease Questionnaire (IBDQ) scores and full Mayo scores. The study looked at these scores three months after treatment and two years after treatment. The researchers also monitored patients continuously for adverse events and completed follow-up appointments every two weeks during the follow-up period.
Before the treatment, there were no significant differences between the two groups when comparing IBDQ or Mayo scores. The results of the study were promising for patients who do not respond to traditional UC treatments. The study found no evident adverse reactions or chronic side effects in patients during the follow-up period.
After just one month, 30 patients in the stem cell therapy group showed improvements in their symptoms. Patients had reduced stomach aches, bloody stool, and diarrhea. The researchers also found that patients had improvements in ulcer formation and inflammation. Histology and Median Mayo scores decreased while IBDQ scores improved significantly compared to before treatment.
85.3% of patients in the stem cell therapy group saw clinical responses, while only 15.7% of patients in the control group saw improvements. The median Mayo score in 27 patients improved in the stem cell therapy group, and it reached the lowest level at the six-month mark. This score did not change significantly during the rest of the follow-up period, while median Mayo scores changed significantly during the follow-up period for the control group.
The stem cell therapy group saw significant improvement in their IBDQ scores. Their IBDQ scores increased from 128.6 to 181.9. The control group did not experience statistically significant changes in their IBDQ scores at the end of the follow-up period.
The potential of MSCs in regenerative medicine is immense due to their differentiation capacity and secretion of numerous bioactive molecules. When transplanted at sites of injury, they display high therapeutic potential regarding tissue repair or control of local inflammation. They can also reduce colonic immune cells that produce inflammatory mediators while upregulating anti-inflammatory cytokines present within the adoptive medium.
MSC infusions were shown not only to promote wound healing but also to reduce prolonged inflammation without evident adverse reactions following protocol completion by patients who completed the study throughout the follow-up period. There was no indication of any safety concerns regarding this treatment.