Stem cells are undifferentiated cells which can carry out a multiplicity of regenerative functions in the human body. They can for example generate or replace a variety of cells via differentiation, regulate the immune system and stimulate other cells in their natural milieu.Stem cells are present in all human beings from embryo/fetus development (embryonic stem cells) and throughout any person’s entire lifespan until death (Adult Stem Cells). It is imperative to note that embryonic stem cells (ESC) and Adult Stem Cells are two very diversegroupings of stem cells having diverse properties.In any person after birth, cell replacement and regeneration transpire in two contexts: i.e. regeneration of naturally dying cells (apoptosis) and in response to any exterior injury (instigatedby factors such as traumatic injury, infection, cancer, infarction, toxins, inflammation, etc.). The stem cells involved in that regeneration procedure are the adult stem cells (also called Somatic Stem Cells).

Adult stem cells and embryonic stem cells

Embryonic stem cells are present the inner cell mass of the blastocyst, an essentially hollow ball of cells that, in the human, forms three to five days after an egg cell is inseminated by a sperm. In normal development, the cells inside the internal cell mass will bring about the more specialized cells that give rise to the whole body i.e. all of our tissues and organs. Embryonic stem cells are pluripotent, meaning they can give rise to every cell category in the fully formed body, but not the placenta and umbilical cord.

Adult stem cells (also referred somatic stem cells) are more specialized than embryonic stem cells. Normally, these stem cells can generate diverse cell categories for the specific tissue or organ in which they live. There are numerousdiverse types of Adult Stem Cells, that all have their particular regenerative functions. For instance, blood-forming (or hematopoietic) stem cells can give rise to red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. However, blood-forming stem cells don’t generate liver or lung cells for example and stem cells in other tissues and organs don’t engender red or white blood cells or platelets. Some tissues and organs within your body encompass small caches of tissue-specific stem cells whose job it is to replace cells from that tissue that are lost in regular day-to-day living or in injury.

How do stem cells target injury- Homing?

In stem cell science, the word “homing” refers to stem cells’ capability to find their destination, or “niche.” During that procedure, impaired or inflamed tissues necessitate repair by sending out signals, some of which act as signals for stem cells and entice them to the injured tissue. This is an objectively rapid process (measured in hours and no longer than 1-2 days).

How do stem cells work for tissue repair? – Direct differentiation and paracrine effect

Once the stem cells have voyaged to the injury site, they mightbegin their regenerative action by acting via two diverse mechanisms: they might undergo direct differentiation so as tostraightaway replace the incapacitated cells or they might also promote tissue regeneration via the Paracrine Effect.
So what is the paracrine effect? In stem cell science, it can be well-defined by the process in which the stem cells release factors that act as signals for neighboring cells and force them to change their behavior to get going the regeneration process. During that course, stem cells do not contribute to tissue regenerationvia direct differentiation.

Why is the paracrine effect so important?

In a huge amount of studies about stem cell transplants, researchers detected that impaired patient tissues were repaired after stem cell transplant from donor. However, afterscrutinizing the newly generated tissues, it has been witnessed that donor cells were not there. Scientists were then able to reveal that the donor stem cells were discharging factors that prompted the patient’s own cells to repair the tissue themselves. It has been also revealed that maximum of the regeneration process was accomplished via paracrine signaling and not via direct differentiation.The paracrine mechanism has turned out to be very advantageous. The benefits of having a paracrine effect are now very obvious. The most significant fact is that even though the donor stem cells have a very restricted lifespan, they have a long-lasting effect on tissue regeneration, which goes on long after complete depletion of donor stem cells.Quite a lot ofdiversekinds of stem cell can invoke a paracrine response such as umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells and umbilical cord blood stem cells.

What can stem cells accomplish via direct differentiation and paracrine effect?

  • Repair impaired tissue: stem cells have the capability to activate the inactive state of stem cells in the human body and have a repair effect on the impaired tissue and organ instigated by the peroxidation and metabolic waste. A balance between free radicals and antioxidants is essential for appropriate physiological function. If free radicals overpower the body’s aptitude to normalize them, a disorder known as oxidative stress supervenes. Free radicals thereforeunfavorably alter lipids, proteins, and DNA and trigger numerous other human infections. Stem cells can also intervene with the free radical stress to refurbish its normal function.
  • Secrete nutritional factors: Stem cells can promote the tissue proliferation and differentiation within the impaired tissue and reestablish the physiological functions of tissues and organs.
  • Regulate the immune function: Via the secretion of soluble factors and direct contact to regulate immune cells’ proliferation and its movement, stem cells are able to decrease the inflammatory response.
  • Regulate the metabolic function: Using the capability of multi-directional differentiation, stem cells can augment the efficacy of metabolic system and thus speed up the body’s operation and defecation of metabolic waste to promote the absorption of nutrients, so as to maintain the normal physiological function.

Furthermore, studies have specified that the paracrine effect is augmented because the donor cells are fascinated to the damaged tissues that require their help. The impaired patient cells are secreting cytokines, regulatory proteins that act as intermediaries to generate an immune response that entice the donor cells. In sequence, the donor cells secrete their own cocktail of proteins that arouse the patient’s stem cells and help to lessenany swelling, promote cell propagation and upsurge vascularization and blood flow into the regions that have to get healed. Paracrine effect cells can also secrete factors that prevent the death of patient cells because of injury or disease. A significant third paracrine effect is their aptitude to ‘dampen’ the immune response that befalls during transplant rejection or during autoimmune disease (1). In this case the cells can be used straight or in combination with other stem cells for therapeutic purposes. For instance, the application of mesenchymal cells accompanied by blood stem cells during a bone marrow transplant seems to decrease graft versus host disease (2).

Abenefit of using cells versus medicine, to promote regeneration is that transplanted cells will respond to their environment and discharge the factors as they are required and in the most suitable concentration. The cells can be thought of as ‘drug workshops’ that adapt as the tissue is renovated. Preclinical studies have confirmed the effectiveness of mesenchymal cells and cord blood cells for the treatment of neural, heart, kidney and muscle based ailments. There have been some resounding studies on the neuroprotective effect of cord blood cells as well.