Cell-Based Therapies for Lumbar Discogenic Low Back Pain: Systematic Review and Single-Arm Meta-analysis

Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2018 Jan 1;43(1):49-57. doi: 10.1097/BRS.0000000000001549.


Study design: A systematic review and single-arm meta-analysis of clinical trials.

Objective: To assess the efficacy of mesenchymal stem cells or chondrocyte in patients with discogenic low back pain.

Summary of background data: There is no previous review evaluated the efficacy of mesenchymal stem cell or chondrocyte therapy in adults with discogenic low back pain.

Methods: A comprehensive literature search was conducted on PubMed, Ovid MEDLINE, Ovid EMBASE, EBSCO, and Web of Science from database inception through on September 10th, 2015. We included clinical trials that evaluated stem cells or chondrocyte-based therapy in patients with discogenic back pain. The primary outcomes of interest were pain score and Oswestry Disability Index (ODI). We performed random-effects model meta-analyses to assess net changes in the same outcome variables. Heterogeneity between studies was estimated by I statistic.

Results: The initial search identified 1393 articles, of which 6 studies were eligible for this review. The pooled mean difference in pain score from baseline to follow-up points was 44.2 points decreased (95% CI: -61.8 to -26.5, P < 0.001, I = 99.4%). Meanwhile, the pooled mean difference in ODI from baseline to follow-up points was 32.2 points decreased (95% CI: -41.6 to -22.9, P < 0.001, I = 99.5%). No related adverse effects were reported by the included studies.

Conclusion: Cell-based therapy is for patients who have discogenic low back pain associated with improved pain relief and ODI. More stringently designed randomized double-blind clinical trials with appropriately determined sample sizes will be needed to confirm its clinical efficacy and safety.

Level of evidence: 4.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell- and Tissue-Based Therapy*
  • Humans
  • Intervertebral Disc Degeneration / complications*
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement / complications*
  • Low Back Pain / etiology
  • Low Back Pain / therapy*
  • Lumbar Vertebrae
  • Pain Management
  • Treatment Outcome

Supplementary concepts

  • Intervertebral disc disease