The process of tissue regeneration stimulated by shock waves is becoming a more recognized therapy. The stimulation with shock waves, in fact, would be able to modulate the activity of macrophages, cells of the innate immune system, involved in the healing process of inflammation and in tissue regeneration. “The discovery is the result of the valuable cooperation within the Humanitas Research Hospital, with the research team of Professor Massimo Locati, director of Leukocyte Biology Laboratory,” – explains Dr. M. Cristina d’Agostino, orthopedic specialist and head of the Centre of Shockwave Therapy and Research of the same institute.
The research, published recently in the International Journal of Surgery, has analyzed the effects of shock waves on macrophages for the first time in a laboratory. “Macrophages – explains Dr. D’Agostino – are important cells of the innate immune system, which can guide and orchestrate the processes of regeneration and remodelling of tissues. The results of the study show that such action is positively regulated by the action of shock waves. ”
(For further information see here: Tendon, the future of rehabilitation is in shock waves)
“The research of the last few years on the innate immune system and the mechanisms related to inflammation have shown that, in reality, the inflammation in itself can be considered “benign”, since it is useful for the purpose of healing. Then there is a form that could be called “malignant” when the inflammation becomes persistent, or pathological, sometimes as a prelude to the fibrous tissue.”
What is the role of macrophages related to inflammation?
“Macrophages are very specific cells, which have two different profiles of “activation”: one that promotes inflammation and one that does the opposite. Studies conducted in the laboratory of Professor Locati and his team of researchers showed that shock waves have no influence on the so-called “dormant”, or not activated macrophages. If macrophages are already oriented towards inflammation, stimulation with shock waves of low intensity turns them off, or deactivates them. But that is not all: the shock waves, in fact, if applied on macrophages that are already being pro-conclusive, or engaged in healing inflammation, have a positive effect on this action, resulting in a boost of activity.”
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After the first use of this technique for the treatment of kidney stones, since the early 90s, the use of shock waves has expanded to the treatment of diseases of the musculoskeletal system. More recently, shock waves have been shown effective in the context of skin regeneration, that is, to accelerate the healing process of wounds and ulcers.
“It has been discovered that shock waves are able to induce the production of growth factors and other biochemical mediators in the cells, which are useful to the regeneration of tissues. Now this research adds one more step to the previous knowledge of the functioning and effectiveness of shock waves, opening up additional possibilities of treatment,” – says Dr d’Agostino.
(For further information see here: Shock waves: tomorrow they may be able to also regenerate the heart?)