Diabetes mellitus exists if the blood glucose level remains elevated in the long term. This may be either because the pancreas produces too little insulin (diabetes type I) or because body cells had become resistant against insulin (diabetes type II).
Diabetes type I is likely an autoimmune disease resulting from a viral infection that causes immune cells to destroy islet cells in the pancreas. Type I often concerns adolescents. In type II insulin receptors of the pancreas are “downregulated” due to excessive calorie intake; this means there are not enough receptors for the insulin effect. By reason of overeating, especially with sugar, diabetes type II has become a widespread disease in the industrialized nations.
Anyone who suffers from diabetes has an increased risk of acquiring damages to vessels and nerves. A permanently high blood sugar threatens all the vessels, but first of all the symptoms are apparent in small fine vessels in the eye, arms or legs, and in men in the penis. The impairment is probably caused by sugar deposits (glycosylation) inside the vessels or the walls of nerve cells.
Injured vessels are responsible for the undersupply of respective organs, reduced function right up to the complete failure of the organ are the results. The undersupply combined with nerve damages which are typical for diabetes are playing a major role in the development of a diabetic foot. The underserved foot, which is insensitive to pain, in addition does not feel the stone inside the shoe, a blister with impaired wound healing forms, which can exacerbate to such an extent that even an amputation may be required as the last treatment option.
Treatment of Diabetes
Diabetes type I: Depending on the level of destruction of the pancreatic islet cells a substitution therapy with insulin can be performed. As long as the inflammation of the pancreas prevails, in most cases an anti-inflammatory therapy is necessary as well. Furthermore, mesenchymal stem cells can be used as a therapeutic measure.
Diabetes type II: Therapy involves mainly weight reduction, calorie-reduced nutrition (in time of war and starvation diabetes did not occur), and refraining from taking sugar. To support the therapy antihypertensive drugs such as Metformin, alpha lipoic acid, and perhaps insulin to lower the blood glucose level can be applied. A therapy with mesenchymal stem cells is also possible.
Stem Cell Therapy of Diabetes
Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSC) or Stromal Vascular Fraction (SVF) obtained from the patient’s body fat can be used in the treatment of diabetes and its secondary diseases like circulatory disturbances in legs, nerve damages, diabetic ulcers, etc. Stem cells are said to be precursor cells of all completed body cells. Now we know that mesenchymal stem cells primarily act via modulating the immune system and stimulating regeneration of tissues and blood vessels by cytokines. Because diabetes has is both an inflammatory and a degenerative component, the application of mesenchymal stem cells recommends itself.
In the course of the treatment first a small portion of the patient’s body fat is harvested by liposuction. The mesenchymal stem cells extracted therefrom are then injected into the affected body areas or applied systemically. In the meanwhile a number of studies have proven that stem cell therapy has the potential to improve circulatory disturbances and support healing of diabetic ulcers.
Stem cells taken from the patient’s body can be used for the treatment of specific problems such as diabetic legs, erectile dysfunction, and other undersupplies of tissue with blood or their symptoms. The efficacy of stem cells was demonstrated in studies on diabetic legs that were close to amputation. The examined legs could mostly be preserved since the administered stem cells caused a sufficient regeneration of blood vessels.