December 1, 2014

Cord blood banking is a unique investment that can benefit your child, not just during childhood, but also has the potential to overcome age-related obstacles faced later in life. One possibility is that cord blood stem cells could help improve age-related brain function and memory loss. This very idea was the topic of a recent, intensely studied medical trial, examining the cause of lagging neurogenesis in the brain.  

The human body goes through many transitions as it ages. Some are easily identified physical changes, but others are microscopic happenings taking place deep within our cells, which though small, really pack a punch in the body’s overall health and growth. One of those changes is to tiny nerve cells called neurons. These cells are the core of the body’s central nervous system. They act as a “messenger” to transmit signals and information to the brain and spinal cord from all over the body. Neurons continually regenerate (from neural stem cells and progenitor cells) throughout a person’s lifetime, in a process called neurogenesis. For the most part, Neurogenesis takes place in the growing brain before we are born, but it also continues throughout our lives in the hippocampus and the sub ventricular zone of the brain. As we age, that repeated regeneration begins to slow and over time can begin to impact the functions of the brain, specifically the hippocampus, which has a major role in short- and long-term memory, and spatial navigation. This slowed process of neurogenesis is likely the result of increased inflammatory activity that occurs with aging, as well as the decelerated rate of cell growth - which occur at varying degrees from person-to-person. Alzheimer’s disease, for example, typically begins in the hippocampus, with memory loss and disorientation as early warning signs. 

But what does umbilical cord blood have to do with this situation?

Researchers, knowing the vast regenerative qualities of cord blood stem cells, performed a study on aging rats to confirm that human cord blood could have an impact in bolstering the neurogenesis process, therefore, improving brain function, memory, and averting disease. In the 2012 study performed at the Morsani College of Medicine, University of South Florida, a team of researchers analyzed how aging rats’ slowed neural cell growth changed when introduced with mononuclear cells from cord blood. They found the long-term effects showed promise for improved neurogenesis1.

The rats’ neural stem cells multiplied at an increased rate, especially in the hippocampus. The study confirmed what they expected – that a single injection of umbilical cord stem cells showed lasting effects in decreasing inflammation by reducing the number of triggered microglia (immune defense of the nervous system), providing trophic support to encourage growth, and increasing the discharge of proteins necessary for new blood vessel development. The cord blood cells, in essence, brought the aging brain back to the neural levels observed in the young adult brain, thus demonstrating that cord blood shows value as a medical tool in rejuvenating the cells that cause neurogenesis deterioration in the aging brain. The next step in future study is human trials.

Because umbilical cord blood units kept at cord blood banks, such as CariCord, are in constant cryogenic storage, they will last indefinitely. Your child will always have access to their perfectly matched stem cells, whether it is now or many decades in the future. THAT is peace-of-mind.

  • A single administration of human umbilical cord blood T cells produces long-lasting effects in the aging hippocampus. Shahaduzzaman, M., et al. The Official Journal of the American Aging Association. Published online December 22, 2012. Found online
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