Stem Cell Treatment for Degenerative Disc Disease

Stem Cell Treatment for Degenerative Disc Disease

Degeneration of the intervertebral disc, often called "degenerative disc disease" (DDD) of the spine, is a condition that can be painful and can greatly affect the quality of one's life.


While disc degeneration is a normal part of aging and for most people is not a problem, for certain individuals a degenerated disc can cause severe constant chronic pain. Often, degenerative disc disease can be successfully treated without surgery. One or a combination of treatments such as physical therapy, chiropractic manipulative therapy (CMT) and other chiropractic treatments, osteopathic manipulation, anti-inflammatory medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, traction, or spinal injections often provide adequate relief of these troubling symptoms.

Degenerative discs typically show degenerative fibrocartilage and clusters of chondrocytes, suggestive of repair. Inflammation may or may not be present. Histologic examination of disc fragments resected for presumed DDD is routine to exclude malignancy.

Fibrocartilage replaces the gelatinous mucoid material of the nucleus pulposus as the disc changes with age. There may be splits in the annulus fibrosis, permitting herniation of elements of nucleus pulposus. There may also be shrinkage of the nucleus pulposus that produces prolapse of the annulus with secondary osteophyte formation at the margins of the adjacent vertebral body.

The pathologic findings in DDD include protrusion, spondylolysis, and/or subluxation of vertebrae (sponylolisthesis) and spinal stenosis.


Stem Cell Treatment and Degenerative Disc Disease NIH Streaming Database

Efficacy of Intervertebral Disc Regeneration with Stem Cells - A systematic review and meta-analysis of animal controlled trials. Gene. 2015 Mar 18; Authors: Wang Z, Terzic CM, Smith J, Mauck WD, Shelerud RA, Maus TP, Yang TH, Murad MH, Gou S, Terry MJ, Dauffenbach JP, Pingree MJ, Eldrige JS, Mohammed K, Benkhadra K, van Wijnen AJ, Qu W Abstract Management of intervertebral disc (IVD) degenerative disease is challenging, as it is accompanied by irreversible loss of IVD cells. Stem cell transplantation to the disc has shown promise in decelerating or arresting the degenerative process. Multiple pre-clinical animal trials have been conducted, but with conflicting outcomes. To assess the effect of stem cell transplantation, a systematic review and meta-analysis was performed. A comprehensive literature search was conducted through Week 3, 2015. Inclusion criteria consisted of controlled animal trials. Two reviewers screened abstracts and full texts. Disagreements were resolved by a third reviewer. Random effects models were constructed to pool standardized mean difference (SMD). Twenty two studies were included; nine of which were randomized. Statistically significant differences were found with the stem cell group exhibiting increased disc height index (SMD=3.64, 95% confidence interval (CI): 2.49, 4.78; p<0.001), increased MRI T2 signal intensity (SMD=2.28, 95% CI: 1.48, 3.08; p<0.001), increased Type II collagen mRNA expression (SMD=3.68, 95% CI: 1.66, 5.70; p<0.001), and decreased histologic disc degeneration grade (SMD=-2.97, 95% CI: -3.97, -1.97; p<0.001). There was statistical heterogeneity between studies that could not be explained with pre-planned subgroup analyses based on animal species, study designs, and transplanted cell types. Stem cells transplanted to the IVD in quadruped animals decelerate or arrest the IVD degenerative process. Further studies in human clinical trials will be needed to understand if such benefit can be translated to bipedal humans. PMID: 25796605 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

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