Published online Jun 26, 2015. doi: 10.4252/wjsc.v7.i5.815
Peer-review started: December 2, 2014
First decision: January 20, 2015
Revised: February 5, 2015
Accepted: April 1, 2015
Article in press: April 7, 2015
Published online: June 26, 2015
New stem cell based therapies are undergoing intense research and are widely investigated in clinical fields including the urinary system. The urinary bladder performs critical complex functions that rely on its highly coordinated anatomical composition and multiplex of regulatory mechanisms. Bladder pathologies resulting in severe dysfunction are common clinical encounter and often cause significant impairment of patient’s quality of life. Current surgical and medical interventions to correct urinary dysfunction or to replace an absent or defective bladder are sub-optimal and are associated with notable complications. As a result, stem cell based therapies for the urinary bladder are hoped to offer new venues that could make up for limitations of existing therapies. In this article, we review research efforts that describe the use of different types of stem cells in bladder reconstruction, urinary incontinence and retention disorders. In particular, stress urinary incontinence has been a popular target for stem cell based therapies in reported clinical trials. Furthermore, we discuss the relevance of the cancer stem cell hypothesis to the development of bladder cancer. A key subject that should not be overlooked is the safety and quality of stem cell based therapies introduced to human subjects either in a research or a clinical context.
Core tip: This article reviews the current status of the stem cell based therapies in the field of treating urinary tract pathologies. We provide a particular focus on bladder reconstruction models that were based on stem cellular therapies. Stress incontinence and voiding dysfunction represent common clinical problems that could benefit from advancing the stem cell field. A brief highlight is given to bladder cancer stem cells and therapeutic value that could arise from controlling their behavior. We also note the pressing need for more robust regulations and quality guidelines to prevent the transfer of research findings prematurely into routine clinical practice.