Stem Cell COPD
COPD is an insidious and complex disease that causes serious treatment issues for the patient. It manifests itself in rampant inflammation of lung tissue. This inflammation kills lung cells and destroys the structure of the air sacs (alveoli) where oxygen and carbon dioxide are exchanged. Once alveolar structure is destroyed, it leads to the over inflation and dysfunction of the lung tissue, which is manifested in the patient as emphysema.
Rampant inflammation also causes swelling of the bronchial airways. The airways narrow and cause interference with air movement out of the lungs (bronchiolitis and chronic bronchitis). This leads to difficulty breathing and abnormal spirometric results characteristic of the disease.
The continuous killing of lung cells and the attendant lung tissue structural damage in COPD is both progressive (even if you stop smoking), and irreversible with current treatment protocols (bronchodilators, corticosteroids and supplemental oxygen). Understanding why COPD is both progressive and irreversible is the key to understanding the true nature of COPD and its inherent connection to stem cells.
Science has shown that adult stem cells reside in human bone marrow throughout life and are found throughout the human body. Adult stem cells heal our bodies by replacing dead and dying cells and are attracted to injured tissue by elevated chemical signals. Injured cells also chemically signal adult stem cells to transform (differentiate) into the cells needed to rebuild and repair damaged tissue (engraftment). This bone marrow adult stem cell healing system resides in each and every one of us.
COPD is irreversible because it constantly interferes with the chemical signals necessary for the adult stem cell healing system to do its work. COPD is progressive because in many heavy smokers the inflammation becomes entwined within the mechanisms of the immune system. In other words COPD can be viewed as an autoimmune disease, in which the patients’ own immune system perpetuates the inflammation and lung damage even after the smoking irritants and toxins are removed. The progression of lung cell damage and cell death continues, and the interference in the adult stem cell healing system continues in the Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease process.
It’s been demonstrated and reported in peer reviewed medical research that COPD disrupts the bone marrow adult stem cell healing process. It’s also been demonstrated that COPD suppresses the production and mobilization of adult stem cells from the bone marrow. This is evidenced by the fact that COPD patients have fewer healthy adult stem cells in their blood compared to those that do not have the disease. Even the adult stem cells that COPD patients do have are less capable of producing the lung cells needed for lung tissue cell replacement.
The answers to these complex problems may be in the activation and mobilization of the COPD patient’s own adult stem cells.