Regenerative medicine based applications to combat stress urinary incontinence

Thaker, H.; Sharma, A. K.

World J Stem Cells. 2013 Nov 2; 5(4):112-123


Stress urinary incontinence (SUI), as an isolated symptom, is not a life threatening condition. However, the fear of unexpected urine leakage contributes to a significant decline in quality of life parameters for afflicted patients. Compared to other forms of incontinence, SUI cannot be easily treated with pharmacotherapy since it is inherently an anatomic problem. Treatment options include the use of bio-injectable materials to enhance closing pressures, and the placement of slings to bolster fascial support to the urethra. However, histologic findings of degeneration in the incontinent urethral sphincter invite the use of tissues engineering strategies to regenerate structures that aid in promoting continence. In this review, we will assess the role of stem cells in restoring multiple anatomic and physiological aspects of the sphincter. In particular, mesenchymal stem cells and CD34+ cells have shown great promise to differentiate into muscular and vascular components, respectively. Evidence supporting the use of cytokines and growth factors such as hypoxia-inducible factor 1-alpha, vascular endothelial growth factor, basic fibroblast growth factor, hepatocyte growth factor and insulin-like growth factor further enhance the viability and direction of differentiation. Bridging the benefits of stem cells and growth factors involves the use of synthetic scaffolds like poly (1,8-octanediol-co-citrate) (POC) thin films. POC scaffolds are synthetic, elastomeric polymers that serve as substrates for cell growth, and upon degradation, release growth factors to the microenvironment in a controlled, predictable fashion. The combination of cellular, cytokine and scaffold elements aims to address the pathologic deficits to urinary incontinence, with a goal to improve patient symptoms and overall quality of life.

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