Ageing is a complex process, which worsens and slows down metabolic and regenerative functions in the body. It results in both visible and internal signs, plus symptoms such as skin dryness and the loss of its elasticity, accumulation of fats, immune system decline, wearing-away of joints, an increased level of inflammation and others. The process is accompanied by, and triggers, various age-induced diseases.
The ageing process is associated with a decline in the number of stem cells, which are the source of regenerative potential for damaged tissue or worn-out cells. An approach based on replenishing stem cells in the body can slow down ageing, improve health and may increase life expectancy.
Current Approaches to Anti-Ageing Treatments
Humankind’s life expectancy has increased, and considerable progress in the extension of life has been made in the last 50 to 70 years. However, at the same time, the desire to look young has reached an unprecedented level. Medical science and cosmetology constantly improve their armoury of anti-ageing care, focusing on two different but complementary approaches – to provide a healthy answer to ageing and prolong visual youth.
How to Look Younger
At any age, the beauty and appeal of a person are determined by healthy skin and hair. Cosmetology offers various approaches to achieve this goal. However, most of them provide only short-term effects which might not always be visible, and also, can have undesirable results.
- Laser skin resurfacing
Depending on the type of laser, this allows the removal of scars, warts and deep wrinkles, plus the treatment of rosacea, spider veins, age spots and acne. The laser stimulates collagen synthesis in the deep layers of the skin.
A dermatologist or physician should explain the benefits and the possible side effects of the specific laser. The most common complications are:
- Burning, redness and rash
- Hyperpigmentation and scars
- Wrinkle Injections
The injection of approved fillers that give volume to the skin and smooth it may also stimulate natural collagen synthesis. Though the safety data for this product is mostly positive, they are known for the increased risk of allergic reactions, granulomas and bumps under the skin.
These molecules neutralise free radicals that are generated during exposure to the sun and pollution and affect the structure of the skin and its protective function. The human body has an antioxidant system, but its ability to protect against free radicals wears off over time. Antioxidants are promoted as an ingredient in skincare products and dietary supplements. However, studies have failed to demonstrate the benefits of antioxidants.
Peptides are small molecules with the same structure as proteins. They consist of a chain of amino acids, which determine their function. Recently, several peptides that stimulate collagen production, promote skin regeneration and reduce wrinkle formation were found and became the main ingredients of anti-ageing cosmetology procedures and skincare products. Despite their efficacy in model studies, they have rather low ability to penetrate skin and are destroyed by enzymes.
- Vitamin A
A study of approximately 40 elderly participants revealed that the topical application of retinol lotion improves the appearance of skin and smooths out fine wrinkles . The effect was caused by an increase in collagen production and the impact of glycosaminoglycan, which is known to retain a substantial level of water. Some retinoids – the modification of vitamin A – were approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of photo-damaged skin and acne. However, the use of retinol-containing products may cause so-called ‘retinoid reaction’. The side effects include pruritus (itching), burning sensation, erythema (redness) and desquamation (skin peeling).
- Anti-ageing Sunscreens
UV radiation plays one of the key roles in skin ageing, termed photoageing. UVA rays are responsible for the degradation of elastin and collagen, and therefore decrease the rigidity and elasticity of the skin. Exposure to UVA rays lead to the wrinkling of the skin. UVB rays account for most of the harmful effects of solar exposure. Sunscreens are chemical agents that act as a shield from harmful UV rays. They help prevent premature ageing and decrease the risk of skin cancer. Researchers are focused on the creation of natural sunscreens, including those which utilise photosynthetic microorganisms (for example, cyanobacteria). They are also investigating anti-ageing creams that contain sun protection ingredients. Sunscreens should be carefully selected, as they may contain ingredients which cause hormonal changes and photoallergy (e.g. oxybenzone). They can also cause local and systemic toxic reactions (nanoparticles), photocarcinogenesis (p-aminobenzoic acid – PABA), as well as oedema, erythema and irritation (e.g. preservatives, fragrances, and other excipients) .
How to Feel Younger
Calorie and dietary restrictions, which have been shown to prolong lifespan in animal and cell models (mice, yeasts) did not show convincing results in primates, perhaps due to differences in dietary nutrient composition. Some studies have supported the anti-ageing effect of a traditional Mediterranean diet. They have shown that products, such as dark chocolate, red wine, nuts, beans and avocados may be referred to as anti-ageing foods, due to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Regular physical activity
Moderate but regular physical activity helps to manage age-related changes in all body systems (musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, digestive, urogenital system and others). It can also improve mental health (memory and thinking).
- Blood rejuvenation
Recently this approach for tissue rejuvenation, which transfers blood from young donors (parabiosis), was proposed based on animal studies. In 2008, scientists at Stanford reported that parabiosis between young and old mice restored muscle and liver cells in the aged mice. Later growth differentiation factor 11 (GDF-11) was identified as the element responsible for the rejuvenating effects in muscles, blood vessels and neurons of the brain. The same factors were found in human blood, but, so far, there are no convincing results: transfusions from younger donors do not show a favourable outcome on the survival rate of older patients.
What Are Mesenchymal Stem Cells, and What is Their Application in Anti-Ageing Treatment
Regenerative medicine offers a modern approach, to turn back the clock of ageing by 10-15 years, in terms of health and appearance. For this, cellular products are used, and the multipotent mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are the most promising and popular.
MSCs are stem cells which are present in many tissues and organs of the adult body and can be easily obtained for clinical purposes. They can differentiate into a variety of cell types:
- Fibroblasts – cells of connective tissue which are found throughout the body and produce the extracellular matrix, collagen, growth factors and cytokines.
- Neuronal cells.
- Endothelial cells, which form the walls of the blood vessels.
- Plus others.
These cells can migrate to areas of acute and chronic inflammation and injury sites and are responsible for producing biologically active chemical factors (including cytokines, growth factors and microRNA). All the above-listed functions determine the critical role of MSCs in tissue healing and regeneration. The advantageous features of MSCs may be used for ageing prevention and reverse age-related changes, both visible and internal.
Cumulative chronic inflammation and oxidative stress are two main elements associated with most age-related chronic disease states and in the normal ageing process. Systemically and locally introduced MSCs modulate inflammation and manage oxidative stress, with this being widely observed.
With regards to biochemical processes in the skin, the potential of MSCs cannot be overestimated. It is known that collagen production decreases in both chronological ageing and photoageing. Collagen is the main protein of the connective tissue and responsible for turgor, firmness and elasticity of the skin. The blood supply to the skin also reduces with age, so the skin lacks nutrition, gas exchange decreases, free radicals accumulate and impact cell regeneration.
MSCs have been shown to stimulate the growth of the capillary network and produce collagen and elastin. As a result, they exhibit the potential to restore blood supply and gas exchange, increasing the regenerative potential of the skin, plus other tissues and organs of the body which decline with age.
Aged tissues have a limited stem cell reservoir, a decreased population and low renewal efficiency. By being introduced to the body, MSCs can replenish the supply of stem cells and the above-listed properties contribute to external and internal improvements, such as:
- Healthy and rejuvenated skin.
- A decrease in the visible signs of ageing.
- An increase in a person’s general health status.
- A boost in energy.
- An improvement in overall well-being.
Therefore, the complex effects of stem cell therapy lay both at a deep level and on the body’s surface.
Contact a Medical Advisor to learn what results you can expect from anti-ageing stem cell therapy >>>
The Results for Swiss Medica Patients
Patient: Adriana, 55 years-old, Italy
“Before stem cell therapy, my mental and physical slowdown was a big hurdle. At the age of 50, I started to feel my knee and ankle joints wearing out, my memory slowing down and there was a lack of energy. I also suffered from disorders of the digestive process, and my skin was becoming dry and loose. By 3 p.m., I could hardly make my brain work, but now, my creative juices are flowing all the time.”
- Pain in knee and ankle joints.
- Slowing down of memory.
- Lack of energy and decrease in work performance.
- Dry skin.
- Digestive disorders.
Results after stem cell-based therapy:
- Shining, clear, resilient skin.
- No joint pain.
- Memory sharpened.
- Mood Improvement.
- Increased energy.
The most frequently used source for cell products is bone marrow, adipose tissue, skin and gingiva (gums). Cells are obtained under local anaesthesia. In some cases, donor cells from a placenta or umbilical cord may be used, instead of or together with the patient’s cells.
Before administration to the patient’s body, the collected cells are processed (extracted from tissue fragments and then multiplied to reach a therapeutic dose – tens or hundreds of millions of cells). Donor cells are ready for use instantly.
As part of the therapy, the cell product is administered to the body. There are two main routes of administration:
- Systemic: the cell product is injected intravenously (IV) via a drip;
- Local: cells are administered at the area of the pathological process.
Both routes may be utilised to ensure the most beneficial results for the patient.
All treatment procedures are performed in compliance with international quality standards (GTP – good tissue practice, GLP – good laboratory practice), to ensure all aspects are safe for the patients and cell product.
How Long Does the Treatment’s Effect Last?
Depending on the initial physical condition of the person treated with stem cells, concomitant diseases, lifestyle and the selected treatment programme, the effect of the therapy may last from six months to several years. Improvements may be observed in one to two weeks, with a further positive trend. A more precise forecast may be compiled based on a comprehensive examination.
Contact a Medical Advisor to receive a customised stem-cell based anti-ageing programme >>>
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Medical Advisor, Swiss Medica doctor