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

Related Articles Duration of TGF-β3 Exposure Impacts the Chondrogenic Maturation of Human MSCs in Photocrosslinked Carboxymethylcellulose Hydrogels. Ann Biomed Eng. 2015 May;43(5):1145-57 Authors: Gupta MS, Nicoll SB Abstract Intervertebral disc (IVD) herniation can be caused by both degeneration and traumatic injury, ultimately resulting in back pain or sciatica due to disc protrusion. Replacement of the nucleus pulposus (NP) tissue during surgical intervention post herniation could improve the long-term stability of the functional spinal unit. Tissue engineering strategies may potentially restore both biological and mechanical function of the NP. Recently, photocrosslinked carboxymethylcellulose (CMC) hydrogels were shown to support chondrogenic, NP-like extracellular matrix (ECM) elaboration by human mesenchymal stromal cells (hMSCs) when supplemented with TGF-β3. However, long-term preconditioning with soluble growth factors in vitro or the use of sustained growth factor delivery vehicles in vivo can be expensive and difficult to control. Transient supplementation with growth factors has been shown to maintain or improve maturation of tissue-engineered constructs. The objective of this study was to evaluate the influence of TGF-β3 exposure time on hydrogel bulk properties and NP-like matrix elaboration in hMSC-laden CMC hydrogels. Constructs were exposed to TGF-β3 for 2 weeks (Transient), 8 weeks (Continuous) or 0 weeks (controls). After 8 weeks of culture, both the Transient and Continuous groups exhibited increased ECM accumulation compared to 2 weeks and controls. The Transient group displayed significantly greater accumulation of collagens I and II, while GAG content was significantly higher in the Continuous group by 8 weeks. Distribution of ECM was more homogeneous in the Continuous group, while the Transient group exhibited more concentrated accumulation in the periphery of the hydrogel by 8 weeks. Mechanical properties improved over time in both groups, however, Continuous constructs demonstrated significantly more robust mechanical properties (equilibrium modulus and peak stress) compared to Transient gels at 8 weeks. Although the functional properties of Transient constructs did not surpass those achieved by Continuous scaffolds, they increased and were maintained upon growth factor removal at 2 weeks, and were greater than controls. Additionally, Transient construct mechanical properties (equilibrium modulus, % relaxation) were similar to those of native NP tissue. The differences seen in ECM distribution and subsequent construct functional maturation are likely due to the time available for diffusion of growth factors through the construct. Overall, these findings support the use of short-term TGF-β3 treatment to promote sufficient long-term tissue maturation in vitro in this hMSC-laden CMC hydrogel system. PMID: 25384834 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Quick Contact Form