Stem cell therapy for voiding and erectile dysfunction

Nat Rev Urol. 2012 Aug;9(8):435-47. doi: 10.1038/nrurol.2012.111. Epub 2012 Jun 19.


Voiding dysfunction comprises a variety of disorders, including stress urinary incontinence and overactive bladder, and affects millions of men and women worldwide. Erectile dysfunction (ED) also decreases quality of life for millions of men, as well as for their partners. Advanced age and diabetes are common comorbidities that can exacerbate and negatively impact upon the development of these disorders. Therapies that target the pathophysiology of these conditions to halt progression are not currently available. However, stem cell therapy could fill this therapeutic void. Stem cells can reduce inflammation, prevent fibrosis, promote angiogenesis, recruit endogenous progenitor cells, and differentiate to replace damaged cells. Adult multipotent stem cell therapy, in particular, has shown promise in case reports and preclinical animal studies. Stem cells also have a role in urological tissue engineering for ex vivo construction of bladder wall and urethral tissue (using a patient's own cells) prior to transplantation. More recent studies have focused on bioactive factor secretion and homing of stem cells. In the future, clinicians are likely to utilize allogeneic stem cell sources, intravenous systemic delivery, and ex vivo cell enhancement to treat voiding dysfunction and ED.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Erectile Dysfunction / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Multipotent Stem Cells / transplantation*
  • Quality of Life
  • Stem Cell Transplantation*
  • Urinary Bladder, Overactive / therapy*
  • Urinary Incontinence, Stress / therapy*