Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a disorder that affects the quality of life and the sexual relations of more than half of the male population aged over 40 years. Currently, it’s estimated that his disorder will affect more than 300 million men in the next five years.
According to the Mayo Clinic, male sexual arousal is a complex process that involves the brain, hormones, emotions, nerves, muscles, and blood vessels. Erectile dysfunction can result from a problem with any of these. Additionally, stress and mental health concerns can cause or worsen erectile dysfunction.
The treatment of ED has traditionally been based on the temporary enhancement of penile erection but without a permanent treatment option. Current temporary treatment options include phosphodiesterase type-5 inhibitors (PDE5is) such as vardenafil, avanafil, tadalafil, and sildenafil, which are the most widely known and used medications for the treatment of ED.
Unfortunately, the treatment failure levels associated with these drugs are high, with unresponsive rates ranging between 20 and 40%. These failure rates often require the use of additional treatment options for the management of ED, including the use of intracorporeal injections, vacuum erection devices, and penile prosthesis implantation. However, the use and application is also limited due to the high cost, intolerance to side effects, pain, and unsatisfactory results.
Recently, several studies have suggested the use of stem cells for the treatment of ED to be promising in terms of damaged tissue repair as well as clinical efficacy.
In their review of current literature, Protogerou et al. evaluate and summarize the methods of administration, the cell types used in the performed clinical trials, and the safety and efficiency of procedures designed to treat ED.
Specifically, the authors reviewed 10 clinical studies published between 2010 and 2020 and used bone marrow-derived stem cells (BMSCs), adipose tissue-derived stem cells (ADSCs), umbilical cord stem cells, and placenta-derived stem cells. One of the studies reviewed also examined the re-administration of stem cells as a potential therapeutic option. From the authors’ findings, each study demonstrated encouraging results characterized by improved sexual function with no side effects.
Protogerou et al. also point out a number of limitations with these studies, including each being a small study with a short follow-up period, various etiologies of ED, and without control groups.
Despite these limitations, the authors highlight the urgent need for a double-blind randomized controlled study for the clinical effect of stem cell treatment in ED to sufficiently understand the ideal therapeutic strategy for using stem cell therapy to treat ED. Source: “Erectile Dysfunction Treatment Using Stem Cells: A Review – PMC.” 6 Jan. 2021, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7825548/.