Stemcelldoc's Weblog

March 20, 2009

Exercise Directs Path of Mesenchymal Stem Cells

Mesenchymal stem cells(MSC) can morph into ligament, cartilage, bone or fat.   How and why they differentiate is critical.    Sen et. al., recently demonstrated that mechanical stress (the laboratory equivalent of exercise) lead mesenchymal stem cells to differentiate into bone instead of fat, even if they are given chemical signals to become fat.  What does this mean?  MSC can become fat cells simply by lack of exercise.  There are other factors which give MSC’s clues to turn into fat vs cartilage, bone or ligament.

If you are a patient with worn knee cartilage and are restricted as a result of pain, one surgical option would be micro-fracture. knee-cartilage-23

This is a surgical procedure where multiple small punctures are made into the femur(thigh) bone in an effort to stimulate cartilage regeneration.  A fragile thin clot is formed at the site which mandates a period on 6-8 weeks of non-weight bearing.  No running, golfing, cycling.  No fun! 

Multiple Puncture Sites From Micro-Fracture

Multiple Puncture Sites From Micro-Fracture

Regenexx offers patients the opportunity to use their own MSC’s to generate cartilage via a needle-in, needle-out procedure.  No surgery is required.  Most importantly, the physical restriction are minimal.  In contrast to micro-fracture technique, the Regenexx patient is encouraged to exercise.  The mechanical loading associated with exercise gives the stem cells signals to change into cartilage.

Please review knee MRI of a patient who underwent stem cell therapy at Regenexx with radiographic evidence of increased cartilage as well as complete resolution of her severe  knee pain.

pix-knee1-1024x777

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2 Comments »

  1. Do you still recommend the use of an unloader brace for a period of a few weeks following a knee procedure? Thanks.

    Comment by Mike Nelli — March 22, 2009 @ 5:54 am

  2. […] stem cells have the potential to change into bone, cartilage, ligament or fat.  In a previous blog, I discussed the importance of exercise in providing clues to the mesenchymal stem cells to change […]

    Pingback by Ultrasound And Stem Cell Differentiation « Stemcelldoc’s Weblog — March 25, 2009 @ 5:02 pm


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