Human placenta stem cells could provide a “safe and effective” approach to preventing diabetes complications, according to a new study.
A Chinese research team say transplanting human placenta-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) into people with diabetes could improve diabetic foot syndrome in the future.
In this new study, the placentas were collected from women who had undergone full-term caesarean section and gave permission for their placentas to be used.
Rats injected with the human placenta-derived MSCs had improved blood flow to critical areas of the body and enhanced blood vessel growth, which could also prevent critical limb ischemia (CLI). CLI is a condition that frequently leads to amputation.
Study co-author Dr Zhong Chao Han of the Beijing Institute of Stem Cells, Health and Biotech, said: “CLI describes an advanced stage of peripheral artery disease characterised by obstruction of the arteries and a markedly reduced blood flow to the extremities.
“CLI is associated with high rates of mortality and morbidity, putting the patients at high-risk for major amputation.
The researchers noted that MSCs are ideal candidates for transplantation because they have both angiogenic (potential to form new blood vessels) and immunomodulatory properties. They are also capable of differentiating into three different lineages.
Han added: “The utility of placenta-derived MSCs is poorly understood, so we sought to investigate the efficacy of combined regular therapy and cell therapy in treating diabetes-related CLI.”
“So far, MSC therapy represents a simple, safe and effective therapeutic approach for diabetes and its complications,” concluded the researchers. “Our studies lay the groundwork for the transition from the experimental bench to the clinical bedside.”
Section editor of the publicatio, Dr Maria Carolina Oliveira Rodrigues, who is also from the Ribeirão Preto Medical School, University of Sao Paulo, said: “Diabetes is becoming more prevalent across the globe and stem cell therapy may be a vital approach to serious vascular complications.
“Future studies should aim to expound upon previous findings in MSC transplantation studies and confirm the efficacy of placenta-derived MSCs for CLI.”
The study is to be published in the Cell Transplantation journal.

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