Monday, February 06, 2023
Did you know that aging, chronic inflammation, and even chronic stress (and a series of well known neurological disorders such as Cerebral Palsy, Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease) are linked to the deterioration of white matter in the human brain? White matter is an important component of nerve cell and myelin sheaths networks, connecting different regions of the brain and governing how they communicate with each other. Scientists and clinicians worldwide (and at Stemaid Institute) are actively applying stem cell therapy as a viable option to repairing white matter damage caused by these functional deficiencies and neurological disorders.
What is white matter?
White matter refers to the part of the central nervous system that consists mainly of nerve fibers (axons) and myelin, a fatty material that insulates and protects these fibers. Unlike gray matter, which is composed mainly of nerve cell bodies and dendrites, white matter primarily consists of long, fiber-like structures that transmit electrical signals from one region of the brain or spinal cord to another.
The role of white matter tracts in the brain is to facilitate communication and coordination between different parts of the central nervous system. It acts like a network of highways that allow signals to travel quickly and efficiently between different regions of the brain. The white matter is also involved in various cognitive processes such as perception, attention, and motor control, and it is essential for normal brain function.
Damage to the white matter, whether due to injury, disease, or aging, can result in a range of neurological symptoms, including motor deficits, changes in sensation, and problems with memory, attention, and executive function. Understanding the role and structure of white matter in the brain is important for developing treatments and therapies to repair or compensate for white matter damage.
What causes White Matter volume to decline?
Low white matter can result from a number of white matter abnormalities, white matter diseases and white matter injury, including:
Stroke: A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is disrupted, resulting in the death of brain cells. This can cause damage to the white matter and lead to neurological symptoms such as paralysis, speech difficulties, and memory loss. Brain causes mini silent strokes that lead to age related white matter injury. There is also a subclass of strokes, white matter stroke, that can further exacerbate white matter injury and decline in brain volume.
Multiple sclerosis (MS): MS is an autoimmune neurological disorder that damages the myelin that surrounds the normally myelinated axons in white matter. Demyelination disrupts axon integrity and signal propagation. Myelinated viable axons propagate information well, leading to sensory, motor and cognitive health. Demyelinated axons result in a range of symptoms, including muscle weakness, numbness, and problems with vision, coordination, and balance.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI): TBI can result from a blow to the head and can cause damage to the white matter in many brain regions and to callosum abnormalities. the resulting axonal injury and white matter injury leads to a range of neurological deficits including headache, nausea, dizziness, cognitive impairment such as difficulty with memory and concentration, and sometimes serious mood and personality alterations.
Spinal cord injury: Spinal cord injuries can result from trauma to the spinal cord and can cause damage to the white matter, leading to a range of symptoms including paralysis, loss of sensation, and problems with bladder and bowel control. Corticospinal tracts, axonal growth, and white matter volume subsequently decline.
Other factors that can contribute to the decline of white matter in the brain include:
Aging: With age, the myelin in the white matter begins to deteriorate, leading to a decline in white matter volume and a decrease in the speed at which signals are transmitted in the brain. This is a normal part of aging and may not result in noticeable symptoms.
Chronic inflammation: Chronic inflammation can result from conditions such as infections, autoimmune disorders, or exposure to toxic substances, and it can damage the white matter over time.
Genetic disorders: Certain genetic disorders, such as leukodystrophies, can cause problems with the development or maintenance of the myelin in the white matter, leading to a decline in white matter volume.
Substance use: Substance use and abuse, such as alcohol and certain drugs, can damage the white matter and result in a decline in brain function. In fact, recent studies show that no amount of alcohol is safe for white microstructure and overall brain volume.
Chronic stress: Chronic stress can lead to the release of harmful stress neurochemicals in the brain, which can damage the white matter integrity and white and grey matter volume.
It's important to note that while these factors can contribute to the decline of white matter in the brain, they may not always result in noticeable symptoms. However, in some cases, the decline in white matter may lead to a range of neurological symptoms, depending on the severity and location of the damage.
What are the signs and symptoms of low white matter volume?
Symptoms of low volume white matter tracts can vary depending on the human brain, the cause and location of the damage, but they may include cognitive deficits, behavioral deficits, motor deficits, changes in sensation, problems with vision, and difficulties with memory, attention, and executive function.
Motor deficits refer to problems with movement or coordination. This can include difficulty with fine motor skills such as writing or using utensils, as well as problems with balance and gait. Changes in sensation can include numbness, tingling, or decreased sensitivity to touch. Vision problems can range from difficulties with visual acuity to problems with visual perception, such as difficulty recognizing faces or objects.
Memory difficulties can include forgetfulness, difficulty with recall, and problems with retaining new information. Attention and executive function difficulties can manifest as distractibility, difficulty with multitasking, and problems with problem solving and decision making.
It's also important to note that low white matter tracts volume may not always result in noticeable symptoms, especially if the damage is mild or in a less critical region of the brain. In these cases, low white matter neurons and myelin sheaths volume needs to be diagnosed via imaging.
How is White Matter volume diagnosed?
Low white matter can be diagnosed through a variety of medical imaging techniques, including:
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): MRI is a non-invasive imaging technique that uses magnetic fields and radio waves to produce detailed images of the brain and spinal cord. MRI can be used to measure the volume of white matter (and grey matter) in the brain, white matter lesions with myelin loss, and can detect brain regions of damage or decline. It can also detect white matter repair over time.
Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI): DTI is a type of MRI that is specifically designed to measure the integrity of the white matter fibers in the brain. DTI uses mathematical models to measure the diffusion of water molecules along the white matter fibers and can help to identify areas of damage or decline in white matter.
Positron Emission Tomography (PET): PET is a type of imaging that uses a small amount of radioactive material to produce images of the brain. In the context of white matter, PET can be used to measure changes in metabolism and blood flow in the brain that may indicate damage or decline in white matter.
Clinical tests: In addition to imaging tests, low white matter can also be diagnosed through a range of clinical tests, including neurological exams, cognitive tests, and assessments of physical function. These tests can help to identify symptoms that may indicate a decline in white matter, such as problems with memory, attention, coordination, or movement.
It's important to note that these tests are not always definitive and a combination of imaging and clinical tests may be needed to diagnose presence of white matter lesions and low white matter volume. In addition, the presence of low white matter does not always result in noticeable symptoms and may not require treatment. However, early diagnosis and treatment can help to slow the decline in white matter and prevent further damage.
How can White Matter volume be improved?
White matter volume can be improved through a combination of lifestyle changes, medical treatments, and rehabilitation:
Exercise and physical activity: Regular physical exercise has been shown to increase the volume of white matter in the brain, particularly in regions involved in movement and coordination. Exercise causes perfusion of all tissues including the brain, blood vessels bring in more oxygen and nutrients and the brain tissue repairs, myelin formation and functional myelination improve.
Cognitive training: Engaging in mentally stimulating activities, such as reading, learning a new skill, or playing brain games, can also improve cognitive function and volume of white matter in the brain. Cognitive decline is associated with decreased mental stimulation.
Healthy diet: Consuming a balanced diet that is rich in vitamins and nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants, has been shown to benefit brain health, blood pressure, perfusion, and may help to improve the volume of white matter in the brain.
Rehabilitation: In the case of brain injury, rehabilitation can help to improvea broad range of cognitive and physical functional outcomes, and may also help to improve the volume of white matter in the affected areas of the brain.
- Stem cell therapy: In scientific studies, stem cell therapy has shown promise in increasing the volume of white matter in mice models of brain injury and disease. In the clinical setting, cognitive function is continuously improving with Pluripotent Stem Cell and Plurisomes™ Therapy, pointing to the probability of white matter integrity and volume improvement. Imaging is recommended in order to confirm these clinical observations.
How do Pluripotent stem cells improve White Matter volume?
To answer this question, we must distinguish 3 different types of Pluripotent Stem Cell Therapeutics, 1. allogeneic 2. autologous and 3. acellular.
1. Allogeneic Pluripotent Stem Cell Therapy
Allogeneic pluripotent stem cells come from the tissue line grown from the inner cell mass of a 5-day old donor blastocyst. The inner cell mass contains all the information to repair all 220+ tissues of the body, including brain and nerve tissue. Since the allogeneic line does not contain recipient nuclear DNA or mitochondrial DNA, it will be removed by the immune system within 24 to 48 hours. As a result, engraftment is not the key therapeutic effect. It's the reparative and reprogramming secretome the stem cells release while in the human body that has the therapeutic benefit in the short and long term for the brain. Allogeneic pluripotent stem cells release billions of pluripotent exosomes, containing powerful neurotrophic, DNA reparative, mitochondria reparative, immunoregulating, myelinating, telomere elongating transcription factors. These in synergy result in repair, remodeling and reprogramming of the brain and nerves.
2. Autologous Pluripotent Stem Cell Therapy
Autologous pluripotent stem cells contain recipient nuclear and mitochondrial DNA, and can effectively engraft and replenish depleted neural stem cells (brain stem cells), and remain in the body long term for repair and overall cellular response reprogramming. They also release a highly specified reparative secretome, tackling abnormal myelination and chronic myelination over time. This can in effect result in white matter volume increase and significant symptom improvement.
3. Acellular Pluripotent Therapy, Plurisomes™
Plurisomes™ are the active ingredients of Stemaid's Allogeneic Pluripotent Stem Cell line. Unlike the stem cells, these unique pluripotent exosomes are non-replicating, acellular entities that carry a regenerative cargo to all tissues in the body, including the brain. Due to their small size (40-100nm), Plurisomes™ are able to easily cross the blood-brain barrier and deliver their reparative information to the smallest micro-capillaries. Because they are not cells, they can be safely used on all patients, even those taking immunosuppressive medications or who have received an organ transplant.
Plurisomes™ contain a variety of transcription factors with many benefits for the body, including reparative properties for nuclear and mitochondrial DNA, neurotrophic effects, angiogenic benefits, anti-fibrotic actions, telomere elongation, and pro-growth effects. They also have immunomodulatory effects, suppressing inflammation and regulating autoimmune disease progression. Exosomes modulate immune reactions and homeostasis of immune cells. Additionally, pluripotent exosomes contain cellular reprogramming factors known as Yamanaka factors, which can even reverse biological aging in human tissues. The potential of exosomes in therapeutics is significant.
All of the above 3 forms of stem cell therapeutics have potent regenerative capacities for white matter volume improvement, and all 3 are available as possible therapy at Stemaid Institute (included in our one to five weeks therapeutic programs). If you'd like to monitor your white matter volume, we recommend you to have imaging done with your doctor pre and post treatment.