Treating Peripheral Artery Disease by Stem Cells

Treating Peripheral Artery Disease by Stem Cells

Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) is a major risk factor for heart attack and stroke. It is underdiagnoses and studies are proposing ways for treating peripheral artery disease with stem cells. It is a disease of blood vessels outside the heart and brain. The main cause of PAD is the buildup of fatty deposits in arteries. Peripheral arterial disease or peripheral vascular disease (which includes both arteries and veins) are other names for PAD.

PAD is the narrowing or obstruction of vessels that carry from the heart to other parts of the body. If arteries become blocked, blood cannot flow to the organs and tissues. Therefore, causing tissue damage and later of sooner tissue death. It can happen in any blood vessel but commonly in legs than arms.

Risk Factors:

Peripheral arterial disease is common in African-Americans. Men and women, both are affected by PAD. However, men are more likely at risk. Factors that increase the risk of having peripheral artery disease include:

  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Increasing age (60 or above)

Causes of Peripheral Artery Disease:

Treating Peripheral Artery Disease by Stem Cells

The primary cause of PAD is atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a continuous process where fatty material deposits inside arteries. It usually affects arteries throughout the body. As a result, the supply of blood to limbs may be restricted.

However, atherosclerosis is not the only cause of PAD. Formation of blood clots, inflammation in a blood vessel, radiation exposure, or injury to limbs can also lead to the development of peripheral artery disease.


PAD can develop over a lifetime and symptoms may not be visible until later in life. The usual symptom is pain in the legs after walking (claudication). However, 4-10 people with PAD do not have leg pain. Symptoms may include:

  • Leg numbness/weakness
  • Coldness in the lower leg or foot
  • Slower growth of toenails
  • Change in color of legs
  • Weak pulse in leg and feet
  • Hair loss on feet and legs
  • Painful cramps in one or both hips, thighs, or calf muscles during some activities, such as walking or climbing stairs

With time and the progress of the disease, you may feel pain even at rest or lying down.

Use of Stem Cells for treating Peripheral Artery disease:

The therapeutic use of stem cells has opened doors for the treatment of peripheral artery disease. Cell therapy using peripheral blood-derived or bone marrow-derived cells, mesenchymal stem cells, or specific bone marrow cells with angiogenic properties may help to treat patients with PAD. However, there are some factors that should be addressed before making cell therapy a part of daily clinical practice.

For this purpose long-term, a follow-up would be required to see if there are any adverse effects of therapy on the body. Also, there is no such evidence that states that the use of stem cells at the early stage of the disease could be more helpful.

Therefore, researchers and doctors are working on the possible pre-implantation treatment of stem cells with many growth factors to improve their angiogenic properties. While many points need to be clear and more data is required, it is important that this field should be explored with the following studies to design a new therapeutic approach available for this purpose.

Although stem cell therapy cannot help every patient having cardiovascular disease but stem cell therapy combined with changes in lifestyle can prove to be a safe, effective, and non-surgical treatment.

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