07 Dec Can Stem Cells Treat the Damage Caused by Chronic Inflammation of the Kidneys?
Inflammation of the kidneys may involve the areas of the organs called the tubules, glomeruli, or the interstitial tissue that covers these mentioned areas. The medical term for this situation is nephritis.
There are two types of nephritis, namely:
- Glomerulonephritis – where there is inflammation of the glomeruli.
- Interstitial nephritis – occurrence of inflammation of the spaces between the renal tubules.
Causes of nephritis may include:
- Infections such as those that affect the urinary tract that complicate and then reach the renal pelvis of the kidney resulting in pyelonephritis.
- Autoimmune conditions such as systemic lupus erythematosus where the body produces antibodies that attack normal tissue cells. In this case, the normal tissue is the renal cells and this condition is referred to as lupus nephritis.
- Athletic nephritis may be caused by strenuous exercise. Trauma to the red blood cells results in the presence of hemoglobin in the urine making it seem like there’s blood present.
Nephritis is the 9th leading cause of death among all women in the United States, and the 5th leading cause among black women of non-Hispanic origin, which makes it an important condition to be aware of and manage appropriately.
If long-standing nephritis is present in an individual, then they are referred to as having chronic nephritis. This condition leads to:
- Irreversible damage to the kidney cells resulting in chronic kidney disease and, ultimately, failure of the organs.
- These patients needing to go on renal dialysis therapies such as machines and medications that are used to filter the blood in the body because the kidneys can no longer function properly.
- Kidney transplantation from a deceased or living donor.
Stem cell therapy in chronic nephritis
Before or even after chronic nephritis causes damage to the kidney cells, stem cell transplantation or transfusion can help in limiting and repairing the injury caused by inflammatory processes.
Stem cell therapy in chronic nephritis includes the following benefits:
- Stem cells differentiate into new and healthy renal cells taking up the place of the injured tissue and improving the function of the organs. The natural repair process of the body is also stimulated by these cells by discharging growth stimulants.
- The same stem cells also stimulate the body into producing anti-inflammatory proteins that reduce the inflammatory process caused by the specific condition causing damage to the kidneys.
In a study performed to look at the efficacy of stem cell therapy in patients with lupus nephritis1, the following findings were made:
- The overall 5-year survival rate in patients was 84 percent and the possibility of disease-free 5-year survival was 50 percent in those receiving the stem cells.
- Renal function stabilization and even improvement were demonstrated.
- Inflammatory markers were reduced which correlated to a reduction in disease activity.
- These results were preliminary though which means that further research is needed to look at the efficacy of stem cells on renal disease caused by systemic lupus erythematosus. The study does provide the foundation and justification of such research to be conducted through.