Potential applications for using stem cells in spine surgery

Curr Stem Cell Res Ther. 2010 Dec;5(4):345-55. doi: 10.2174/157488810793351686.


While the use of biologics as adjuncts for spine surgery is growing annually stem cells have yet to be approved for this clinical application. Stem cells have the unique ability to differentiate into a variety of musculoskeletal tissues including bone or cartilage. Moreover they have been shown to secrete growth factors that promote matrix repair and regeneration and can down regulate inflammation and immune cell functions. It is these combined activities that make stem cells attractive candidates for advancing current techniques in spine surgery and possibly mitigating those pathologies responsible for tissue degeneration and failure thereby minimising the need for surgical intervention at a later date. This review focuses on the characteristics of progenitor cells from different sources and explores their potential as adjuncts for both current and future applications in spine surgery. Where possible we draw on the experimental outcomes from our own preclinical studies using adult mesenchymal progenitor stem cells, as well as related studies by others to support our contention that stem cell based therapies will play a significant role in spine surgery in the future.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult Stem Cells / cytology
  • Adult Stem Cells / immunology
  • Adult Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppression
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / immunology
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Pluripotent Stem Cells / cytology
  • Pluripotent Stem Cells / immunology
  • Pluripotent Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / pathology
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / therapy*
  • Spinal Cord Regeneration
  • Stem Cell Niche
  • Stem Cell Transplantation*


  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins