Background: The urinary bladder and urethra comprise the lower urinary tracts. Pathological
conditions that affect both structures necessitate reconstructive urological intervention with autologous
tissue sources that cause neuromechanical and metabolic complications. Stem-cell therapies may
offer an attractive alternative as they can replicate important host derived cellular functions such as
mitosis, proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis.
Objective: To provide an overview on the application of stem cell therapies for regenerating the lower
urinary tracts and to discuss factors that need to be addressed before stem-cells can be reliably introduced
into clinical urological practice.
Results: Advantages of stem cells in reconstructive urology are their ability to self-renew and their
durability. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and adult stem cells (ASCs)
demonstrate excellent urological regenerative properties. Repairing defective lower urinary tract structures
with various stem-cell derived therapies has been widely reported with encouraging results in
vitro and in pre-clinical in vivo trials. Ethical considerations, cost, regulation, manufacturing and reimbursement
need to be fully transparent before stem-cells are routinely applied to urological patients.
International collaboration with consensus guidelines should be considered to facilitate standards that
allow safe use of stem-cell therapies in urology.
Conclusion: Stem cells therapies in urology are developing rapidly with many important achievements
to date. Despite promising in vitro and pre-clinical data; implementation of stem cells into daily
urological practice is not imminent. Further investigation is required to determine whether stem-cells
will provide better clinical outcomes than current urological tissue replacement strategies.