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 Adverse effects of stromal vascular fraction during regenerative treatment of the intervertebral disc: observations in a goat model. Eur Spine J. 2015 Sep;24(9):1992-2000 Authors: Detiger SE, Helder MN, Smit TH, Hoogendoorn RJ Abstract Stromal vascular fraction (SVF), an adipose tissue-derived heterogeneous cell mixture containing, among others, multipotent adipose stromal cells (ASCs) and erythrocytes, has proved beneficial for a wide range of applications in regenerative medicine. We sought to establish intervertebral disc (IVD) regeneration by injecting SVF intradiscally during a one-step surgical procedure in an enzymatically (Chondroitinase ABC; cABC) induced goat model of disc degeneration. Unexpectedly, we observed a severe inflammatory response that has not been described before, including massive lymphocyte infiltration, neovascularisation and endplate destruction. A second study investigated two main suspects for these adverse effects: cABC and erythrocytes within SVF. The same destructive response was observed in healthy goat discs injected with SVF, thereby eliminating cABC as a cause. Density gradient removal of erythrocytes and ASCs purified by culturing did not lead to adverse effects. Following these observations, we incorporated an extra washing step in the SVF harvesting protocol. In a third study, we applied this protocol in a one-step procedure to a goat herniation model, in which no adverse responses were observed either. However, upon intradiscal injection of an identically processed SVF mixture into our goat IVD degeneration model during a fourth study, the adverse effects surprisingly occurred again. Despite our quest for the responsible agent, we eventually could not identify the mechanism through which the observed destructive responses occurred. Although we cannot exclude that the adverse effects are species-dependent or model-specific, we advertise caution with the clinical application of autologous SVF injections into the IVD until the responsible agent(s) are identified. PMID: 25682272 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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