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World J Stem Cells. 2010 Feb 26;2(1):1-4. doi: 10.4252/wjsc.v2.i1.1.

Advances in stem cell therapy for the lower urinary tract.

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  • 1Ching-Shwun Lin, Knuppe Molecular Urology Laboratory, Department of Urology, School of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143-0738, United States.


Lower urinary tract diseases are emotionally and financially burdensome to the individual and society. Current treatments are ineffective or symptomatic. Conversely, stem cells (SCs) are regenerative and may offer long-term solutions. Among the different types of SCs, bone marrow SCs (BMSCs) and skeletal muscle-derived SCs (SkMSCs) have received the most attention in pre-clinical and clinical trial studies concerning the lower urinary tract. In particular, clinical trials with SkMSCs for stress urinary incontinence have demonstrated impressive efficacy. However, both SkMSCs and BMSCs are difficult to obtain in quantity and therefore neither is optimal for the eventual implementation of SC therapy. On the other hand, adipose tissue-derived SCs (ADSCs) can be easily and abundantly obtained from "discarded" adipose tissue. Moreover, in several head-on comparison studies, ADSCs have demonstrated equal or superior therapeutic potential compared to BMSCs. Therefore, across several different medical disciplines, including urology, ADSC research is gaining wide attention. For the regeneration of bladder tissues, possible differentiation of ADSCs into bladder smooth muscle and epithelial cells has been demonstrated. For the treatment of bladder diseases, specifically hyperlipidemia and associated overactive bladder, ADSCs have also demonstrated efficacy. For the treatment of urethral sphincter dysfunction associated with birth trauma and hormonal deficiency, ADSC therapy was also beneficial. Finally, ADSCs were able to restore erectile function in various types of erectile dysfunction (ED), including those associated with diabetes, hyperlipidemia, and nerve injuries. Thus, ADSCs have demonstrated remarkable therapeutic potentials for the lower urinary tract.


Bladder; Erectile dysfunction; Penis; Stem cells; Urethra; Urinary incontinence

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