The field of treating patients with immune disorders and hematopoietic diseases underwent a revolution with scientist E. Donnall Thomas showing the use of bone marrow transplantation (BMT) in leukaemia. This later was modified with specific cells or fractions of the bone marrow being used such as bone marrow-derived mononuclear cells (BM-MNCs).
BM-MNCs are cells of the bone marrow that have rounded or a single lobule in the nucleus with no granules in the cytoplasm. They can hence be separated from other cells such as RBC progenitors using physical approaches. According to research published in 2012 by scientists Cuende and team in Stem cells translational medicine BM-MNCs of an adult human include progenitor cells at different maturation states. They also include the lymphocytes, monocytes and macrophages. Healthy human bone marrow has also shown the presence of non-hematopoietic cells that form cells of other lineages. These include very small embryonic-like stem cells that show similar features of embryonic stem cells, mesenchymal stromal cells with multipotent differentiation ability, endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs), hemangioblasts that are progenitors of endothelial or hematopoietic cells and stem cells that are committed to forming tissue.
Each of these cells has been implicated in several functions such as EPCs contribute to the formation of new blood vessels or neovascularization after birth. The other BM-MNCs secrete cytokines and growth factors that aid this process making them important in blood vessel formation.
Looking at the promise of these cells in regenerative medicine, a team led by Arnous reported an improvement in left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) after infarction in several trials, in Stem Cell Research & Therapy. In the trial called the Transcatheter Transplantation of Stem Cells for Treatment of Acute Myocardial Infarction (TCT-STAMI), the administration of BM-MNCs resulted in the LVEF in 5% of the patients. This shows the potential of these cells in healing heart disease.
In another study published in PLoS ONE, researchers Naruse and team reported an improvement in painful diabetic neuropathy symptoms in diabetic rats. The administration of autologous BM-MNCs also improved the blood flow to the nerves and restored the functions of peripheral nerves showing the use of these cells to treat diabetic neuropathy.
An interesting systematic review by scientists Vahidy and team in Stroke reported that bone marrow-derived mononuclear cells improved the damage in histology and behavior in various ischemic stroke models. This becomes significant given that stroke ranks second across the world as the cause of death and third in causing disability (Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 2016).
Thus, these cells from the bone marrow are fuelling interesting scientific findings across the world to enable life sciences to transform the face of medical care using cell therapy.
Cuende, N., Rico, L., & Herrera, C. Concise review: bone marrow mononuclear cells for the treatment of ischemic syndromes: medicinal product or cell transplantation? Stem cells translational medicine. 2012; 1(5), 403–408.
Arnous, S., Mozid, A., Martin, J. et al. Bone marrow mononuclear cells and acute myocardial infarction. Stem Cell Research & Therapy 2012; 3: 2.
Ge J, Qian J: Efficacy of emergent transcatheter transplantation of stem cells for treatment of acute myocardial infarction (TCT-STAMI). Heart. 2006; 92: 1764-1767.
Naruse K, Sato J, Funakubo M, Hata M, Nakamura N, Kobayashi Y, et al. Transplantation of Bone Marrow-Derived Mononuclear Cells Improves Mechanical Hyperalgesia, Cold Allodynia and Nerve Function in Diabetic Neuropathy. PLoS ONE 2011; 6(11): e27458.
Farhaan S. Vahidy ,Mohammad H. Rahbar, Hongjian Zhu et al. Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Bone Marrow–Derived Mononuclear Cells in Animal Models of Ischemic Stroke. Stroke. 2016;47:1632–1639.
Bulletin of the World Health Organization 2016;94:634-634A. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.2471/BLT.16.181636