Nitric oxide whose chemical symbol is NO may be one of the key players in the stem cell regenerative medicine world. I call it one of the “holy grails” of stem cell therapy. Nitric oxide is probably one of the most important signaling molecules in our body. It has an effect on almost everything from maintaining blood pressure to preventing many disease conditions to dramatically stimulating stem cells. Our immune system is very intimately related to NO production. During the past two decades, nitric oxide (NO) has been recognized as one of the most versatile players in the immune system. It is involved in the pathogenesis and control of infectious diseases, tumors, autoimmune processes and chronic degenerative diseases. To regulate immune responses, NO will trigger the eradication of pathogens on the one hand and on the other hand modulate immunosuppression during tissue-restoration and wound-healing processes. Much of these effects comes from the effects NO has upon immune cells. Mesenchymal stem cells are immune modulators. They will quill the inflammatory response that the body produces in many different conditions. Nitric oxide works hand in hand with mesenchymal stem cells and macrophages to make the stem cell environment more conducive for stem cell repair. There is essentially no pathological condition in the body where NO does not play a role in the management of the condition.
The discovery that a simple molecule produced as a gas could perform so many essential and critical biological and physiological functions established a new paradigm in cell signaling. Cell signaling is very important in the field of stem cell science. Cell signaling is the intercellular communication system of the body. Most of the aspects of cell signaling involves cytokines. Their release has an effect on the behavior of the cells around them. Cytokines work as immunomodulation agents. Meaning they will directly affect the immune system either causing inflammation or closing it down. Cytokines include among other things chemokines and interleukins all of which are growth factors typically produced by stem cells, platelets and various immune cells. On the other hand, NO is a gas that can do similar things. The NO molecule will many times affect certain genes causing them to be “turned on” and instruct the cell to produce a variety of biochemical compounds. Some of these compounds will have conflicting actions depending upon the environment. One method of how NO works in signaling involves the concept of hyperbaric oxygen. It has been a long-standing principle that hyperbaric oxygen can increase healing. There is very little dispute to this principle. One very surprising fact is that hyperbaric oxygen works by the principle of the production of nitric oxide. Thus, hyperbaric oxygen gets people better not by increased oxygen but by the production of NO. This research was presented by Dr. S. Thom of the Univ. of Penn. Dr. Thom showed that hyperbaric oxygen produces NO which effects a certain enzyme in the bone marrow which simulates the release of stem cells from the bone marrow. This is the true mechanism of how hyperbaric oxygen works. Remember, ultimately it is the body’s cells that repair a condition.
Harnessing the power of the cells is the fundamental basis of Stem Cell Regenerative Medicine. Nitric oxide is very important in harnessing these cells. One good example of this aspect is the treatment of Osteoporosis. I am actively involved in the use of stem cells for the treatment of Osteoporosis which is a weakening of the bones. We have had excellent improvements in bone densities with our propriety treatments of osteoporosis with a specific type of stem cell and growth factors. I am also aware that nitric oxide also plays a significant role in the regulation of osteoporosis. If too little NO is present in the body than this stimulates the production of osteoclasts which break down bone leading to a weakening of the bone and osteoporosis or its less severe cousin osteopenia. On the other hand, if increased amounts of NO are present than this stimulates the production of osteoblasts which produce bone and thus strengthen it. All of our osteoporosis patents are advised to take a NO supplement.
As we age, we lose our ability to produce Nitric Oxide. When our ability to produce NO diminishes we are susceptible to a host of chronic diseases. By the age of 40, most adults produce only about 50% of the NO produced when they were 20.
We now know that NO production or the lack of it is a very early marker of chronic disease. Low levels of NO are associated with a variety of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and general poor health. Many lifestyle and dietary habits that lead to chronic disease are linked to insufficient NO. These lifestyle changes are lack of exercise, a poor diet and some of the medicines that we are prescribed for certain medical conditions. Dietary nitrate is also an important source of nitric oxide in mammals. Green, leafy vegetables and some root vegetables (such as beetroot) have high concentrations of nitrate. When eaten and absorbed into the bloodstream, nitrate is concentrated in saliva (about 10-fold) and is reduced to nitrite on the surface of the tongue by a biofilm of commensal facultative anaerobic bacteria. This is a very important reason for avoiding mouthwashes. The mouthwash may kill the very bacteria that is designed to keep you healthy by their NO production. The Nitrite produced by the bacteria is swallowed and reacts with acid and reducing substances in the stomach.
A number of supplements have been tested and certain ones that have been found to have a profound impact on NO production in the body. After much due diligence, I found the best product for stimulating NO production in the body is called Neo-40. This is produced the company called HumanN. The original research on this product comes from the Univ. of Texas. Thus, the pedigree of the product can be traced back to Univ. of Texas. The research on Neo-40 was performed by my colleague Dr. Nathan Bryan. He is considered one of the world’s experts on NO.
As I have said in many of my lectures I feel that NO is one of the holy grails of the stem cell world. We now know of certain methods of manipulating the production of Nitric Oxide such as using Arginine but this ability seems to diminish with age. Luckily, we now have some new weapons in our armamentarium such as Neo-40. I know that NO is not only very important for maintaining optimal health but also for stem cell production. Typically, optimal health and increased stem cell production go hand in hand.
In summary, we now know that nitric oxide is a many faceted compound including acting as a growth, immune, and neuro-modulator as well as a stimulator of stem cell proliferation. It has a critical role in analgesia, angiogenesis (production of blood vessels), and vasodilation. It furthermore acts as an anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and anti-microbial agent. Unlocking some of the secrets of nitric oxide will unlock some of the secrets of life. Thanks Dr. P