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Stem-cell therapy for erectile dysfunction

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      Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the most common sexual disorder that men report to healthcare providers, and is the male sexual dysfunction that has been most investigated. Current treatments for ED focus on relieving the symptoms of ED and therefore tend to provide a temporary solution rather than a cure or reversing the cause. Recently, therapies based on stem cells (SCs) have had an increasing attention for their potential to restore erectile function. Preclinical studies showed that these cells might reverse the pathophysiological changes leading to ED, rather than treating the symptoms of ED. This review is intended to provide an overview of contemporary reports on the use of SCs to treat ED.


      We made an extensive search for reports on SC-based therapy for the management of ED, published in English between 1966 and 2013, using the search engines SciVerse-sciencedirect, SciVerse-scopus, Google Scholar and Pubmed, with the search terms ‘erectile dysfunction’, ‘stem cells’, ‘multipotent stromal cells’, ‘adipose (tissue) derived stem cells’, ‘bone-marrow derived stem cells’, ‘animal model’, ‘diabetes’, ‘ageing’, ‘Peyronie’s Disease’ and ‘cavernous nerve injury’.


      Fifty-four papers were identified and contributed, either as an original research report or review thereof, to this review. Several preclinical studies addressed SC-based therapies for the recovery of erectile function caused by a variety of both chronic and acute conditions. Overall, these studies showed beneficial effects of SC therapy, while evidence on the mechanisms of action of SC therapy varied between studies. One clinical trial investigated the short-term effects of SC therapy in diabetic patients with ED. Two more clinical trials are currently recruiting patients.


      The rapidly expanding and highly promising body of preclinical work on SC-based medicine providing a potential cure for ED, rather than merely symptom relief, is indicative of the increasing interest in regenerative options for sexual medicine over the past decade. Clinical trials are currently recruiting patients to test the preclinical results in men with ED.

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          Stem cells have been long looked at as possible therapeutic vehicles for different health related problems. Among the different existing stem cell populations, Adipose- derived Stem Cells (ASCs) have been gathering attention in the last 10 years. When compared to other stem cells populations and sources, ASCs can be easily isolated while providing simultaneously higher yields upon the processing of adipose tissue. Similar to other stem cell populations, it was initially thought that the main potential of ASCs for regenerative medicine approaches was intimately related to their differentiation capability. Although this is true, there has been an increasing body of literature describing the trophic effects of ASCs on the protection, survival and differentiation of variety of endogenous cells/tissues. Moreover, they have also shown to possess an immunomodulatory character. This effect is closely related to the ASCs' secretome and the soluble factors found within it. Molecules such as hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), granulocyte and macrophage colony stimulating factors, interleukins (ILs) 6, 7, 8 and 11, tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), nerve growth factor (NGF), adipokines and others have been identified within the ASCs' secretome. Due to its importance regarding future applications for the field of regenerative medicine, we aim, in the present review, to make a comprehensive analysis of the literature relating to the ASCs' secretome and its relevance to the immune and central nervous system, vascularization and cardiac regeneration. The concluding section will highlight some of the major challenges that remain before ASCs can be used for future clinical applications.

            Author and article information

            [a ]Laboratory for Experimental Urology, Gene and Stem Cells Applications, Department of Development and Regeneration, University of Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
            [b ]Knuppe Molecular Urology Laboratory, Department of Urology, School of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA
            Author notes
            [* ]Corresponding author. Tel.: +1 415 476 3800; fax: +1 415 476 3803. tlue@
            Arab J Urol
            Arab J Urol
            Arab Journal of Urology
            12 September 2013
            September 2013
            12 September 2013
            : 11
            : 3
            : 237-244
            © 2013 Production and hosting by Elsevier B.V. on behalf of Arab Association of Urology.

            This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (



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