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Stem Cells Dev. 2012 Apr 10;21(6):834-43. doi: 10.1089/scd.2011.0621. Epub 2012 Jan 13.

Stem cell therapy for stress urinary incontinence: a critical review.

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Knuppe Molecular Urology Laboratory, Department of Urology, School of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, California 94143-0738, USA.


Stress urinary incontinence (SUI) is a prevailing health problem that severely impacts quality of life. Because SUI is mainly due to urethral sphincter deficiency, several preclinical and clinical trials have investigated whether transplantation of patient's own skeletal muscle-derived cells (SkMDCs) can restore the sphincter musculature. The specific cell type of SkMDCs has been described as myoblasts, satellite cells, muscle progenitor cells, or muscle-derived stem cells, and thus may vary from study to study. In more recent years, other stem cell (SC) types have also been tested, including those from the bone marrow, umbilical cord blood, and adipose tissue. These studies were mostly preclinical and utilized rat SUI models that were established predominantly by pudendal or sciatic nerve injury. Less frequently used animal models were sphincter injury and vaginal distension. While transurethral injection of SCs was employed almost exclusively in clinical trials, periurethral injection was used in all preclinical trials. Intravenous injection was also used in one preclinical study. Functional assessment of therapeutic efficacy in preclinical studies has relied almost exclusively on leak point pressure measurement. Histological assessment examined the sphincter muscle content, existence of transplanted SCs, and possible differentiation of these SCs. While all of these studies reported favorable functional and histological outcomes, there are questions about the validity of the animal model and claims of multilineage differentiation. In any event, SC transplantation appears to be a promising treatment for SUI.

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