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Stem cell horizons in intervertebral disc degeneration

Authors Ciacci J, Ho A, Ames CP, Jandial R

Published 20 January 2009 Volume 2008:1 Pages 31—39


Joseph Ciacci1, Allen Ho1,2, Christopher P Ames3, Rahul Jandial4

1Division of Neurosurgery, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California, USA; 2Del E Webb Neurosciences, Aging and Stem Cell Research Center, The Burnham Institute for Medical Research, La Jolla, California, USA; 3Department of Neurological Surgery, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA; 4Division of Neurosurgery, Department of Surgery, City of Hope Cancer Center, Duarte, CA, USA

Abstract: Intervertebral disc degeneration remains a pervasive and intractable disease arising from a combination of aging and stress on the back and spine. The growing field of regenerative medicine brings the promise of stem cells in the treatment of disc disease. Scientists and physicians hope to employ stem cells not only to stop, but also reverse degeneration. However, there are many important outstanding issues, including the hostile avascular, apoptotic physiological environment of the intervertebral disc, and the difficulty of obtaining mesenchymal stem cells, and directing them towards chondrocytic differentiation and integration within the nucleus pulposus of the disc. Given the recent advances in minimally invasive spine surgery, and developing body of work on stem cell manipulation and transplantation, stem cells are uniquely poised to bring about large-scale improvements in treatment and outcomes for degenerative disc disease. In this review we will first discuss the cellular and molecular factors influencing degeneration, and then examine the efficacy and difficulties of stem cell transplantation.

Keywords: intervertebral disc degeneration, stem cells, disc disease, mesenchymal stem cells, stem cell transplantation

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