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Cell Transplant. 2015;24(11):2171-83. doi: 10.3727/096368915X686229. Epub 2015 Jan 20.

Regeneration of degenerated urinary sphincter muscles: improved stem cell-based therapies and novel imaging technologies.

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Department of Urology, University of Tuebingen Hospital, Tuebingen, Germany.


Stress urinary incontinence (SUI) is a largely ousted but significant medical, social, and economic problem. Surveys suggest that nowadays approximately 10% of the male and 15% of the female population suffer from urinary incontinence at some stage in their lifetime. In women, two major etiologies contribute to SUI: degeneration of the urethral sphincter muscle controlling the closing mechanism of the bladder outflow and changes in lower pelvic organ position associated with degeneration of connective tissue or with mechanical stress, including obesity and load and tissue injury during pregnancy and delivery. In males, the reduction of the sphincter muscle function is sometimes due to surgical interventions as a consequence of prostate cancer treatment, benign prostate hyperplasia, or of neuropathical origin. Accordingly, for women and men different therapies were developed. In some cases, SUI can be treated by physical exercise, electrophysiological stimulation, and pharmacological interventions. If this fails to improve the situation, surgical interventions are required. In standard procedures, endoprostheses for mechanical support of the weakened tissue or mechanical valves for a bladder outflow control are implanted. In 20% of cases treated, repeat procedures are required as implants yield all sorts of side effects in time. Based on preclinical studies, the application of an advanced therapy medicinal product (ATMP) such as implantation of autologous cells may be a curative and long-lasting therapy for SUI. Cellular therapy could also be an option for men suffering from incontinence caused by injury of the nerves controlling the muscular sphincter system. Here we briefly report on human progenitor cells, especially on mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs), their expansion and differentiation to smooth muscle or striated muscle cells in vitro, labeling of cells for in vivo imaging, concepts of improved, precise, yet gentle application of cells in muscle tissue, and monitoring of injected cells in situ.

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