Introduction: Stromal cell-derived factor-1α (SDF-1) is a chemokine that plays a major role in cell trafficking and homing of CD34(+) stem cells. Studies employing SDF-1/CXCR4 have demonstrated its therapeutic potential in tissue engineering. During injury, cells from the injured organ highly express SDF-1, which causes an elevation of localized SDF-1 levels. This leads to recruitment and retention of circulating CD34(+) progenitor cells at the injury site via chemotactic attraction toward a gradient of SDF-1. The general approaches for SDF-1 introduction in tissue engineering are direct protein incorporation into scaffolds and transplantation of SDF-1-overexpressing cells and both methods are successful in improving the regeneration of the damaged tissue/organ.
Areas covered: The mechanisms of SDF-1-mediated homing via CXCR4 receptor and the success of SDF-1-based medical applications in mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) homing as well as areas such as therapeutic angiogenesis, wound healing and neuronal and liver regeneration.
Expert opinion: Current SDF-1 delivery designs and platforms hold much room for improvement. Regardless of the different techniques of SDF-1 introduction, they have proved to be effective in recruitment of various stem/progenitor cells. The pursuit of SDF-1-related regenerative medicine has already begun. It is thus conceivable that its usage in the clinical setting will be a reality in the near future.