Mutations on genes cause certain cells to function differently. With psoriasis, these mutations seem to largely alter T-helper cells.
Immune System Causes of Psoriasis
In a normally functioning immune system, white blood cells produce antibodies to foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses. These white blood cells also produce chemicals that aid in healing and fighting infective agents. But with psoriasis, special white blood cells called T-cells become overactive.
These T-cells “attack” the skin and set off a cascade of events that make the skin cells multiply so fast they start to stack up on the surface of the skin. Normal skin cells form, mature, and then are sloughed off every 30 days. But in plaque psoriasis the skin goes through this whole process in 3-6 days.
Normally T-cells produce chemicals that help heal the skin. In psoriasis, T-cells produce an abnormally large amount of these chemicals and actually cause more inflammation in the skin and joints.
How Do Environmental Triggers Affect Psoriasis?
Encountering certain environmental triggers seems to jump-start the machinery of the body’s immune system in vulnerable individuals. When you have an autoimmune disease, such as psoriasis, the machinery doesn’t confine its attack to a real invading enemy. Once the immune system gets rolling, it assaults the tissues and organs of the body with the equivalent of friendly fire.
Some of the environmental factors that seem to be able to trigger psoriasis or to cause a flare-up of the condition in someone who already has the disorder include:
Infections – Psoriasis often starts or worsens after you’ve had some kind of infection, especially one caused by streptococcus bacteria (as in “strep throat”).
Medications – Lithium, antimalaria drugs, high blood pressure medicines (called “beta blockers”) and the anti-inflammatory drug Indocid (indomethacin) are some of the drugs that seem to be possible triggers
Skin injury – Overly dry skin, sunburn, cuts and scratches sometimes seem to be able to add the insult of psoriasis to the original injury.
Stress – Some studies suggest that stress can serve as a trigger
Possible Role for Stem Cells
Stem cells and stem cell mixes such as Stromal Vascular Fraction Cells (SVF) are known to reset up-regulated genes. This is the basic defect in Psoriasis.
The up-regulated genes then stimulate an overreaction in the T-cells which produce excess inflammation in the skin and joints. Stem cells and SVF cells have been shown to decrease inflammation.
Theoretically stem cell and SVF cells will ameliorate psoriasis but not provide a “cure”.Multiple Sclerosis and other neurological conditions
Macquarie Stem Cells is now treating patients with MS with some success. Our colleagues around the world are reporting improvements with other
neuro-degenerative disorders We are now starting to treat motor neurone disease, parkinsons, and other immune disorders.
A small study on the use of stem cells obtained from a patient’s own fat tissue in the treatment of multiple sclerosis has shown promising results. The three case studies support further clinical evaluation of stromal vascular fraction (SVF) cells in multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune conditions.
Thomas Ichim and Dr. Boris Minev worked with a team of researchers to demonstrate the possible effectiveness of SVF cells in multiple sclerosis treatment.
Minev said, “All three patients in our study showed dramatic improvement in their condition after the course of SVF therapy. While obviously no conclusions in terms of therapeutic efficacy can be drawn from these reports, this first clinical use of fat stem cells for treatment of multiple sclerosis supports
further investigations into this very simple and easily-implementable treatment methodology”.
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune condition, in which the body’s own defenses attack nerve cells, resulting in loss of their fatty myelin sheath. The first symptoms usually occur in young adults, most commonly in women. It is believed that SVF cells, and other stem cells, may be able to treat multiple sclerosis by limiting the immune reaction and promoting the growth of new myelin. According to Minev, “None of the presently available multiple sclerosis treatments selectively inhibit the immune attack against the nervous system, nor do they stimulate regeneration of previously damaged tissue. We’ve shown that SVF cells may fill this therapeutic gap”.