Ulcerative colitis is an Inflammatory Bowel Disease characterized by chronic inflammation of the large intestine. This is an autoimmune disease in which intestinal mucosae undergones constant attacks by the immune system resulting in constant damage and healing of the large intestine. The patients not only suffer from the disease, but also face higher chances of developing colorectal carcinoma.
Mesenchymal stem cells from the umbilical cord blood are able to suppress inflammation and have immunomodulatory properties, and are considered promising tools for treating inflammatory and immune-mediated diseases such as ulcerative colitis. However, they are not extensively used in clinic because of the lack of robust techniques for harvesting and expanding MSCs.
In a new study published in the journal Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology, the researchers used umbilical mesenchymal stem cells to treat mice with ulcerative colitis induced by special drugs. This induced colitis in mice has many in common with ulcerative colitis in humans.
When the mice with induced colitis were treated with umbilical mesenchymal stem cells, the severity of the disease in them diminished. The colon tissue became more normal, the production of molecules associated with inflammation was significantly reduced. Treating the mice with umbilical mesenchymal stem cells lead to decrease in intestine permeability and increase in tight junction proteins levels, which are responsible for keeping the colonic cells together and ensuring the structural integrity of the colon. The results are very promising for the patients, and the researchers will be working on further advance of the technique.