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Stem Cell Treatment for Degenerative Disc Disease

Degeneration of the intervertebral disc, often called "degenerative disc disease" (DDD) of the spine, is a condition that can be painful and can greatly affect the quality of one's life.


While disc degeneration is a normal part of aging and for most people is not a problem, for certain individuals a degenerated disc can cause severe constant chronic pain. Often, degenerative disc disease can be successfully treated without surgery. One or a combination of treatments such as physical therapy, chiropractic manipulative therapy (CMT) and other chiropractic treatments, osteopathic manipulation, anti-inflammatory medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, traction, or spinal injections often provide adequate relief of these troubling symptoms.

Degenerative discs typically show degenerative fibrocartilage and clusters of chondrocytes, suggestive of repair. Inflammation may or may not be present. Histologic examination of disc fragments resected for presumed DDD is routine to exclude malignancy.

Fibrocartilage replaces the gelatinous mucoid material of the nucleus pulposus as the disc changes with age. There may be splits in the annulus fibrosis, permitting herniation of elements of nucleus pulposus. There may also be shrinkage of the nucleus pulposus that produces prolapse of the annulus with secondary osteophyte formation at the margins of the adjacent vertebral body.

The pathologic findings in DDD include protrusion, spondylolysis, and/or subluxation of vertebrae (sponylolisthesis) and spinal stenosis.


Stem Cell Treatment and Degenerative Disc Disease NIH Streaming Database

Related Articles Fibroblast Transplantation Results to the Degenerated Rabbit Lumbar Intervertebral Discs. Open Orthop J. 2017;11:404-416 Authors: Ural IH, Alptekin K, Ketenci A, Solakoglu S, Alpak H, Özyalçın S Abstract BACKGROUND: Our study is an analysis of the histological and radiological changes in degenerated lumbar intervertebral discs, after transplantation of fibroblasts in rabbits. With that study we aimed to show the viability of the fibroblasts injected to the degenerated discs, and observe their potential for further studies. METHOD: The apoptosis of the cell is one of the factors at the disc degeneration process. Fibroblasts may act as mesenchymal stem cells at the tissue to which they are injected and they may replace the apoptotic cells. The nucleus pulposus of the discs from eight rabbits were aspirated under scopic guidance to induce disc degeneration. RESULTS: One month later, cultured fibroblasts, which had been taken from the skin, were injected into the disc. The viability and the potential of the injected cells for reproduction were studied histologically and radiologically. Cellular formations and organizations indicating to the histological recovery were observed at the discs to which fibroblasts were transplanted. The histological findings of the discs to which no fibroblasts were transplanted, did not show any histological recovery. Radiologically, no finding of the improvement was found in both groups. The fibroblasts injected to the degenerated discs are viable. CONCLUSION: The findings of improvement, observed in this study, suggest that fibroblast transplantation could be an effective method of therapy for the prevention or for the retardation of the degenerative disease of the discs. PMID: 28603572 [PubMed - in process]