Study Investigates Stem Cell’s Role in Healing

Studies on kidney disease at Colorado State are focusing on whether stem cells can reduce kidney inflammation in cats. “Any cat over 10 is likely to develop kidney disease, and by age 15, I’m generally very surprised if it hasn’t,” says researcher Jessica Quimby, DVM, Ph.D., ACVIM.

Injecting stem cells to combat inflammation and scarring is experimental, Dr. Quimby says, but because studies show that adult mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) promote healing and reduce inflammation, they are central to studies treating many chronic inflammatory, degenerative and autoimmune diseases. “We’re trying to fight kidney inflammation and fibrosis with stem cells, not grow new kidney tissue,” she says.

Her research focuses on differences in stem cell effectiveness when MSCs are injected into the bloodstream, near the kidney or the abdomen. Three studies using intravenous injections have showed mild improvement, Dr. Quimby says.

Uremic Gastritis Study

In dogs with with chronic kidney disease, vomiting, reduced appetite and weight loss result partly from stomach acid and uremic toxins causing stomach inflammation and ulcers. “Consequently, patients often are treated with antacids and gastrointestinal protectants,” Dr. Quimby says. Cats with CKD show the same signs possibly for different reasons.

Analysis of stomach fluid and stomach lining from cats who died of CKD found no inflammation or ulcers of the stomach, Dr. Quimby says, “but we did find mineralization of the stomach,” related to excess phosphorus and hyperparathyroidism from CKD. “This may lead to different reasoning about why cats lose appetite and could lead to better treatment,” both medical and nutritional.