Physicians of the Orthohealing Center recently published a mini review article on Bone Marrow Concentrate (BMC) for knee osteoarthritis. Here is a brief recap of the article.
Knee osteoarthritis (OA) is a debilitating joint condition characterized by inflammation, tissue breakdown(cartilage/joint), and development of osteophytes (also known as bone spurs). Knee OA affects at least 19% of adults forty-five years old and above. Osteoarthritis’ ever-increasing incidence is expected to continue climbing as the population increases and continues aging. Osteoarthritis is described as a “wear and tear” disease with a myriad of risk factors including age, gender, trauma, obesity, and overuse, just to name a few. Current treatments include non-invasive interventions (i.e. medications, physical therapy, bracing, and activity modification) in addition to more invasive surgical interventions. Many of the above treatments focus on reducing pain, but not reversing the disease or controlling its progression. However, cell-based therapies are emerging as treatment options for osteoarthritis and have shown potential to reduce OA symptoms.
One cell-based therapy for osteoarthritis that has recently gained traction by clinicians and researchers is autologous (meaning that it comes from a patient’s own body) Bone Marrow Concentrate (BMC). BMC has been shown to contain various growth factors, mesenchymal stem cells and cell-signaling proteins (cytokines) that have been theorized to support cell growth after injury. Some research has also illustrated that BMC has anti-inflammatory and immune-cell-modulating properties that may enhance cartilage repair. A potential limitation of BMC is the content of red-blood-cells (RBC). Research has illustrated that high RBC content can potentially interfere with the viability of stem cells and that reduced RBC levels in BMC may improve the function of the stem cells. In addition, previous research has also stated that BMC may inhibit the degenerative process in joint OA by acting on specific immune targets, namely IL-1b and MCP-1, potentially leading to pain relief.
Preliminary research on the use of autologous BMC treatment has shown great promise in relieving pain and symptoms with knee osteoarthritis. However, more research/clinical trials with adequate sample sizes are needed to determine the effectiveness of BMC, as well as the best cellular composition (with or without RBCs) for treating joint osteoarthritis.