Mesenchymal stem cells: potential application in intervertebral disc regeneration
Chronic low back pain is one of the leading public health problems in developed countries. Degeneration of the intervertebral disc (IVD) is a major pathological process implicated in low back pain, which is characterized by cellular apoptosis and senescence with reduced synthesis of extracellular matrix (ECM). Currently, there is no clinical therapy targeting the reversal of disc degeneration. Recent advances in cellular and molecular biology have provided an exciting approach to disc regeneration that focuses on the delivery of viable cells to the degenerative disc. Adult mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are multipotent stem cells with self-renewal capacities and are able to differentiate into diverse specialized cell types, including chondrocyte lineages. The potential of stem cell therapy in disc degeneration is to repopulate the disc with viable cells capable of producing the ECM and restoring damaged tissue. The present literature review summarizes recent advances in basic research and clinical trials of MSCs to provide an outline of the key roles of MSCs therapies in disc repair. The review also discusses the controversies, challenges and therapeutic concepts for the future.