Stem Cells in Male Sexual Dysfunction: Are We Getting Somewhere?

Sex Med Rev. 2017 Apr;5(2):222-235. doi: 10.1016/j.sxmr.2016.11.002. Epub 2016 Dec 29.


Introduction: Stem cells for sexual disorders are steadily being introduced into clinical trials. Two conditions of importance are the main target for this line of treatment, especially when regarding the wide array of translational and basic science highlighting the potential advantages of regenerative therapy: erectile dysfunction (ED) and more recently Peyronie disease (PD). Cellular therapy offers a treatment modality that might reverse disease progression. It would be used in a curative setting, in contrast to other pharmaceutical agents that are currently available.

Aim: To review basic preclinical studies and recent clinical trials of stem cells on ED and PD.

Methods: A search of the medical literature for the following terms was performed using PubMed: stem cells, cellular therapy, erectile dysfunction, Peyronie's disease, and clinical trial.

Main outcome measures: A non-systematic narrative review and critical reflection on preclinical and clinical studies administering stem cells for ED and PD in animal models and human subjects.

Results: Numerous studies have confirmed the beneficial functional effects of stem cell injection in established animal models on ED and PD. Various stem cell types have been adopted, from embryonic to adult mesenchymal cell types. Each cell type offers distinctive advantages and disadvantages. Diverse administrations of stem cells were investigated, with insignificant variability in the ultimate results. Stem cells appear to have a pronounced paracrine effect, rather than the classic engraftment and differentiation hypothesis. Phase 1 clinical trials using stem cells have not reported any severe adverse events in animals. However, these results cannot be extrapolated to draw any conclusions about efficacy in human patients.

Conclusion: Stem cells have an established efficacy in preclinical studies and early clinical trials. Studies are currently being published demonstrating the safety of intrapenile injection of autologous bone marrow- and adipose tissue-derived stem cells. Soebadi MA, Milenkovic U, Weyne E, et al. Stem Cells in Male Sexual Dysfunction: Are We Getting Somewhere? Sex Med Rev 2017;5:222-235.

Keywords: Cavernous Nerve Injury; Erectile Dysfunction; Peyronie Disease; Progenitor Cells; Sexual Dysfunction; Stem Cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging
  • Animals
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Diabetes Complications / physiopathology
  • Erectile Dysfunction / physiopathology
  • Erectile Dysfunction / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Penile Diseases / physiopathology
  • Penile Diseases / therapy*
  • Prostatectomy
  • Stem Cell Transplantation*