Stem Cells, an Alternative for Diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body does not efficiently use the insulin it produces.

Insulin is a hormone that regulates glucose (sugar) in the blood. The effect of uncontrolled diabetes is hyperglycemia (increased blood sugar), which over time severely damages the organs and tissues of sufferers.

In the present article, the potential of mesenchymal stem cells as new therapeutic agents for the treatment of a series of diseases caused by Diabetes Mellitus is exposed.

The administration of mesenchymal stem cells can prevent and treat diabetic nephropathy, which is a progressive renal complication caused by the angiopathy of the capillaries that supply blood to the kidneys.

The mesenchymal stem cells transplanted into the damaged kidneys are differentiated (converted) into renal cells and regulate the immune response, resulting in an efficient treatment of diabetic nephropathy. The result of the systemic administration of mesenchymal stem cells is the improvement of renal function, and the regeneration of the glomerular structure, since these cells can reconstitute the necrotic (dead) segments of the diabetic kidneys.

Diabetic neuropathy is the most common complication caused by Diabetes Mellitus and is characterized by damage to nerve fibers. Spontaneous pain, hyperalgesia and decreased sensation are symptoms of neuropathy. The central features in the development and progression of this complication are the degeneration of neuronal cells and the decrease in nervous blood flow.

Previous studies have shown that angiogenic cytokines, such as basic fibroblast growth factor and vascular endothelial growth factor, could be useful for the treatment of neuropathy. It was demonstrated that mesenchymal stem cells, due to their ability to secrete these growth factors, could be used as a new and effective therapeutic agent for the treatment of this complication.

In the case of diabetic wounds, the use of mesenchymal stem cells has had favorable results. One study showed that the systemic and local administration of mesenchymal stem cells presented an improvement at the level of healing, showing high levels of collagen, followed by a greater resistance to wound rupture.

The increase in collagen production, a crucial component for tissue strength, integrity and structure, was also noted. Intravenous injection of mesenchymal stem cells resulted in an increase in the production of growth factors involved in the repair of damaged tissue, generating a successful healing of the diabetic wound.

Vladislav Volarevic, Nebojsa Arsenijevic, Miodrag L Lukic, a, b and Miodrag Stojkovic a, Stem Cells. 2011 Jan; 29 (1): 5-10. Doi: