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Development of stem cell therapy for stress urinary incontinence

Ho, Christina P.a; Bhatia, Narender N.b

Current Opinion in Obstetrics and Gynecology: October 2012 - Volume 24 - Issue 5 - p 311–317
doi: 10.1097/GCO.0b013e328357ae03
UROGYNECOLOGY: Edited by Narender Bhatia

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.

aDivision of Medical Education, School of Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama

bDivision of Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, California, USA

Correspondence to Christina P. Ho, 2020 Fifth Avenue South, Suite 441, Birmingham, AL 35233, USA. Tel: +1 205 261 1287; e-mail:

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.