The walls of the blood vessels could be the natural location of ‘multipotent mesenchymal’ stem cells (cells that are able to regenerate various tissues of human organs). This was discovered in an international study published in Cell Stem Cell by researchers from the Milan General Hospital Foundation, led by Lorenza Lazzari. The discovery, explained the experts, “could represent a true turning point for stem cell research.” It would give a precise location for mesenchymal stem cells, which until now has been unknown, and it would also demonstrate that multipotent stem cells do not belong to the organ from which they are removed, but rather are connected to the vascular tissue that is part of the structure of every organ.
Paolo Rebulla, the head of Transfusion Medicine at the Milan General Hospital and the director of Cell Factory, a specialized unit that participated in the study said: “Data from the study is an important step towards potential applications of regenerative medicine because it facilitates the recognition and culture of a homogenous type of adult stem cells distributed in different organs and tissues. These cells seem to be easily changed to carry out repairs to damages in tissues and organs during the aging process and due to certain processes caused by diseases. Now it is necessary to develop efforts to promote human testing.
According to Lorenza Lazzari, director of research and development for the Cell Factory, “The new aspect of this study is that these multipotent cells are found around capillaries and are present everywhere, from the pancreas to fat tissue, because blood vessels are found all over our bodies.” What could be the use of this study? “Mesenchymal cells could be involved in repairing many tissues,” added Gian Battista Danzi, the head of Cardiology at Milan General Hospital, “including myocardial tissue (muscle that allows the heart to contract).” Recently, researchers at the University of Frankfurt, led by Professor Andreas Zeiher demonstrated that injecting mesenchymal stem cells into the coronary arteries of heart attack patients stimulates the regeneration of vital myocardial tissue and improves contractile function in the left ventricle. Mesenchymal stem cells could represent an important therapeutic strategy in patients affected by ischemic heart disease (lack of blood flow to the heart).