The healing of wounded skin in diabetes can be sped up by more than 50 percent using injections of stem cells taken from bone marrow, a new study in mice shows.
The research, led by scientists at NYU School of Medicine, focused on a chain of events in diabetes that makes skin sores more likely to form and less likely to heal.
Namely, the body’s failure in diabetes to break down dietary sugar creates molecules called free radicals that can wreak havoc on cells and damage their DNA. These free radicals also trigger an inrush of immune cells and chemicals meant to fight infection that, researchers say, instead kill normal cells and cause diabetic skin ulcers. These wounds, they note, can take twice as long to heal as in healthy mammals and are prone to infection.
Published in the January issue of the journal Diabetes, the study showed that the injected stem cells restore a cell signaling pathway called Nrf2/Keap1, recently shown by the NYU team to be disrupted in diabetes. The rebalancing brought on by stem cell therapy, the researchers say, decreased wound healing time to 21 days in treated diabetic mice compared with 32 days in untreated diabetic mice. By contrast, normal mouse skin wounds usually heal in 14 days.
“Our study shows that in mice, stem-cell-based therapies can stimulate the Nrf2/Keap1 pathway to counteract … read more