Purpose of review: In recent years, stem cell therapy has been investigated as a promising approach for the treatment of stress urinary incontinence (SUI). This article reviews the biology of stem cells and their applications as a cell-based treatment for SUI. The current status and future direction of this forefront research in urinary incontinence are also examined.
Recent findings: During the past decade, adult stem cells have been studied as a potential cell-based approach for the treatment of SUI. The results of current preclinical and clinical studies are presented. These studies demonstrated the improvement in histologic and functional outcomes with stem cell therapies for SUI. Adult stem cells may augment sphincter regeneration and also release trophic factors, promoting vessel and nerve integration into the generated tissues. So far, the findings of the clinical trials are less impressive than the results obtained with animal studies.
Summary: Although stem cell therapy holds much promise for SUI, the clinical applications in patients have been slow to materialize. This challenge, together with the currently limited data on basic science studies and clinical trials, will undoubtedly stimulate new investigations in the near future.
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