Introduction: Stem cell (SC) application is a promising area of research in regenerative medicine, with the potential to treat, prevent, and cure disease. In recent years, the number of studies focusing on SCs for the treatment of erectile dysfunction (ED) and other sexual dysfunctions has increased significantly.
Areas covered: This review includes critical ED targets and preclinical studies, including the use of SCs and animal models in diabetes, aging, cavernous nerve injury, and Peyronie's disease. A literature search was performed on PubMed for English articles.
Expert opinion: Combination treatment offers better results than monotherapy to improve pathological changes in diabetic ED. Regenerative medicine is a promising approach for the maintenance of sexual health and erectile function later in life. Cavernous nerve regeneration and vascular recovery employing SC treatment may be focused on radical prostatectomy-induced ED. Notwithstanding, there are a number of hurdles to overcome before SC-based therapies for ED are considered in clinical settings. Paracrine action, not cellular differentiation, appears to be the principal mechanism of action underlying SC treatment of ED. Intracavernosal injection of a single SC type should be the choice protocol for future clinical trials.
Keywords: Erectile dysfunction; aging; cavernous nerve injury; diabetic rat; stem cell.