In vitro OMT-like stimulation of dermal fibroblasts reduces pro-inflammatory cytokine expression

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Julia Hum Ph.D; Jonathan Lowery Ph.D

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Medicine and Health Sciences


Sarcopenia is a disease characterized by degeneration of muscle and strength that puts individuals at increased risk of functional impairment, physical disability, and mortality. The risk of disability is 1.5 to 4.6 times higher in older individuals with sarcopenia than those with normal muscle. Very few DOs utilize OMT in management of gait disorders such as sarcopenia despite studies showing improved mobility in patients after OMT and improved gait in Parkinson’s patients after after OMT. The body’s exquisite ability to sense loading makes it conceivable that mechanical stimulation may lead to anabolic effects on muscle. To investigate this, we first build upon prior work that established an in vitro model system for studying soft tissue OMT-like mechanical stimulation of human dermal fibroblasts. This work demonstrated that injury-like strain of fibroblasts induces the secretion of numerous cytokines; reduces fibroblast proliferation rate; and increases fibroblast apoptosis. Moreover, mechanical stimulation mimicking soft tissue OMT reverses numerous aspects of this phenotype, such as reducing section of pro-inflammatory interleukin (IL)-3 and IL-6, inducing secretion of anti-inflammatory IL-1ra; increasing fibroblast proliferation; and reducing fibroblast apoptosis. Additionally, conditioned medium from fibroblasts subjected to OMT-like mechanical strain promotes differentiation of satellite cells into skeletal muscle myocytes. The utilization of OMT may represent a novel therapy for treating skeletal muscle atrophy in patients who are mobility limited or unable/unwilling to carry out resistance training. In this study, we validate these findings by subjecting human dermal fibroblasts to the same injury-like and OMT-like strains as the previous investigators. Following these strains, the cytokine expression was analyzed using the R&D Human Cytokine Array, the BD Cytometric Bead Array (CBA), and enzyme-linked immunosorbant assays (ELISA). The primary cytokines expressed were interleukins 6 and 8. The CBA showed increased expression in both IL-6 and IL-8 in the injury-like strain when compared to the control and significant decrease in expression for both cytokines in the OMT-like strain when compared to the injury-like strain. These results were validated by the ELISAs. These interleukins are both pro-inflammatory in nature, suggesting that OMT may reduce inflammation following an atrophy-like state.


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