Atherosclerosis Development and Declining Stem Cell Function, Reversal of Disease with Stem Cell Injections An excellent recent article describes how the development of atherosclerosis could be due to age-related stem cell loss. Scientists believe that with age the ability of bone marrow-derived stem cells to repair damage and rejuvenate ateries decreases and this manifests diseases like arteriosclerosis. Scientists bred mice genetically engineered to have symptoms of atherosclerosis, and injected the experimental group with "bone-marrow-derived vascular progenitor cells," a type of stem cell. The experimental group had significantly less damage to the aorta vs. controls, and after injection the stem cells migrated to where they were most needed and differentiated into a variety of cell types. Additionally, the epidermal tissue of the mice treated with stem cells had longer telomeres (bling!). Of much significance, researchers also found that when the donors of stem cells were older mice rather than the younger mice, the injections were much less efficacious at repairing tissues.

"...if you compare someone who is over 60 with someone who is 20 with the same risk factors, there is obviously something else going on as well... the possibility that stem cells may be involved is a completely new piece of the puzzle that had not been anticipated or appreciated before. These findings could be the clue to help us explain why atherosclerosis complications like heart attacks and strokes are almost exclusively diseases of older people."

The above thoughts that aging and the development of pathologies like atherosclerosis are due to the decline in function of stem cells is directly in line with my previous posts on reprogramming stem cells as a means to aging attenuation. It would be awesome to see these techniques move into human clinical trials, as these stem cell therapies hold much promise with the treatment of a wide array of disorders that are labelled as having aging as their main cause.