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Emory Study Tests Bone Marrow Stem Cells to Improve Circulation in Legs

Physicians at Emory University School of Medicine are conducting a clinical trial using stem cells generated within the bone marrow to grow new blood vessels that could improve circulation in patients with blockages in the arteries of their legs -- a condition called peripheral vascular disease (PVD). Individuals with PVD have decreased blood flow to the muscles of the legs, especially during exercise, which causes pain, aching, cramping or fatigue in the muscles of their legs when they walk. This condition also is called "intermittent claudication". The Emory team, led by cardiologist Arshed A. Quyyumi, MD, and cardiology fellow Veerappan Subramaniyam, MD, is using colony stimulating factors (growth factors), to prod the bone marrow to release a type of stem cells called endothelial progenitor cells, which are used by the body to form new blood vessels or to repair damaged ones.

Decreased blood flow in the legs is caused by the blockage or narrowing of the arteries due to build-up of cholesterol. Normally, with exercise, the blood vessels dilate (get bigger), but clogged blood vessels constrict during exercise. In some individuals the vascular system corrects the problem on its own either by forming new blood vessels, called "collaterals," that bypass the blockages, or by repairing the diseased blood vessels. This repair process results in improved circulation even during exercise. Some people are not able to repair their own vessels, however, and physicians don't completely understand the reasons why. Recent studies show that when muscles do not receive enough blood, the body makes growth factors that stimulate the bone marrow to release stem cells that "home" to the muscle that is not getting enough blood. These stem cells include endothelial progeni
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Source:Woodruff Health Sciences Center


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