Stem Cell and PRP Therapy for Erectile Dysfunction
Today, much scientific evidence indicates that most cases of erectile dysfunction (ED) are the result of a physical problem. Systemic diseases can lead to ED, such as atherosclerosis, aging, and diabetes, as well as lack of blood flow, nerve injury, and nitric oxide deficit. Autologous stem cells and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) are both useful therapies for treating erectile dysfunction.How do stem cells work?Stem cells work through a process of regeneration (self-renewal). This means they can make exact replicas of themselves indefinitely.Stem cells also can differentiate into any cell that needs replaced or repaired. They structurally and functionally regenerate damaged tissues, depending on the signals or stimuli they receive. When injected into the body, stem cells can become a more specialized type of cell, such as cartilage, muscle, nerve, bone, or blood vessel.How do stem cells help with erectile dysfunction?Because stem cells can rebuild tissues and structures, they can rebuild penile blood vessels, regenerate damaged nerves, rejuvenate healthy nitric oxide receptors, and reverse scarring of the penile tissues. These abilities combined allow stem cell injections to treat erectile dysfunction.How are stem cells obtained?Autologous stem cells are derived from the patient’s own body, so this procedure has no ethical or political implications. There is no issues with a host-versus-graft or need for medications to suppress the immune system. Additionally, the cells are easily harvested when derived from adipose (fat) tissue, muscle, or bone marrow. There is minimal downtime and little pain with the stem cell procedure.What types of stem cells are used for stem cell therapy?The three types of adult stem cells used are adipose tissue-derived stem cells (ADSC), muscle-derived stem cells (MDSC), and bone marrow-derived stem cells (BMSC). All of these types are called mesenchymal stem cells, which mean they can differentiate into other kinds of cells, such as nerve, cartilage, bone, and fat cells.How can autologous stem cells treat erectile dysfunction?The four ways stem cells are used to treat ED:
Cavernous nerve injury – The cavernous nerve supplies the penis, and many studies show significant improvement in ED through regeneration of this nerve.
Aging – Clinical studies show age-related ED can be treated with stem cell injections directly into the cavernous tissue of the penis. This helps to improve vascularity, nitric oxide production, and smooth muscle regeneration.
Diabetes and metabolic syndrome – In research reports, a single intra-cavernous injection of adult stem cells into the penis will stabilize glucose levels and reduce use of anti-diabetic medication.
Peyronie’s disease – This condition leads to scarring and curvature of the penile tissue. In a recent clinical study, one injection of stem cells resulted in decreased curvature of the penis at the 2-month follow-up.
What is the Priapus Shot?The Priapus shot is a new procedure that claims to improve circulation to the penis and help with sexual dysfunction. This shot is basically an injection into the penis of platelet-rich plasma (PRP). Platelets which are used for blood clotting also spur growth and regeneration of tissues.How is the PRP shot given?PRP is injected into the patient’s penis in five places after a topical anesthetic is applied. The injection stimulates tissue and blood vessel growth with permanent results.How does PRP work?Growth-factor molecules with platelets work in several ways to help with erectile dysfunction. These growth factors initiate and enhance various physiologic processes that contribute to tissue recover after injury or damage. This includes:
Transforming growth-factor-beta (TGF-b) – Promotes growth of matrix between cells as well as bone metabolism.
Epidermal growth factor (EGF) – Promotes cell differentiation and growth, collagen formation, and blood vessel formation.
Insulin growth factor (IGF) – Regulates normal physiology of almost every type of cell in the human body.
Albersen M, Kendirci M, Van der Aa F, Hellstrom WJG, et al. (2012). Multipotent stromal cell therapy for cavernous nerve injury-induced erectile dysfunction. Journal of Sex Medicine, 9(2), 385-403.
Hakim L, Van der Aa F, Bivalacqua TJ, et al. (2012). Emerging tools for erectile dysfunction: a role for regenerative medicine. Nat. Rev. Urol., 9, 520–536.
Zhang H, Albersen M, Jin X, & Lin G (2011). Stem cells. Novel players in the treatment of erectile dysfunction. Asian J. Androl., 14, 145–155.
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