Stem cell-based therapies for spinal cord injury

J Spinal Cord Med. 2009;32(2):105-14. doi: 10.1080/10790268.2009.11760761.


Spinal cord injury (SCI) results in loss of nervous tissue and consequently loss of motor and sensory function. There is no treatment available that restores the injury-induced loss of function to a degree that an independent life can be guaranteed. Transplantation of stem cells or progenitors may support spinal cord repair. Stem cells are characterized by self-renewal and their ability to become any cell in an organism. Promising results have been obtained in experimental models of SCI. Stem cells can be directed to differentiate into neurons or glia in vitro, which can be used for replacement of neural cells lost after SCI. Neuroprotective and axon regeneration-promoting effects have also been credited to transplanted stem cells. There are still issues related to stem cell transplantation that need to be resolved, including ethical concerns. This paper reviews the current status of stem cell application for spinal cord repair.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Humans
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / surgery*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / therapy
  • Stem Cell Transplantation / methods*
  • Stem Cells / classification
  • Stem Cells / physiology*