Stem Cell Therapy for Spinal Cord Injury: Cellular Options

Review Article

Austin J Cerebrovasc Dis & Stroke. 2014;1(3): 1012.

Stem Cell Therapy for Spinal Cord Injury: Cellular Options

Adeeb N1, Hose N1, Tubbs RS2 and Mortazavi MM2*

1Department of Neurological Surgery, University of Washington-Harborview Medical Center, USA

2Pediatric Neurosurgery, Children’s of Alabama, USA

*Corresponding author: Mortazavi MM, Department of Neurological Surgery, University of Washington- Harborview Medical Center, 325 Ninth Ave, Box 359766, Seattle, WA 98104, USA

Received: July 15, 2014; Accepted: August 15, 2014; Published: August 19, 2014


Spinal cord injury is one of the most debilitating conditions, which mostly affects relatively young individuals. Following the initial insult, secondary pathologic processes including the vascular and inflammatory cascades lead to permanent cellular disruption, causing an irreparable damage. For the last two decades, replacement of the lost cellular and supporting elements at the site of the injury have become a major topic of spinal cord regenerative research. Various types of stem cells have been used as sources for these elements. However, despite the extensive advancement in the isolation, expansion, and transplantation of these stem cells, and the promising functional outcomes in animal models, they are yet to be widely used in humans, and more studies are needed to determine their safety and efficacy. In this review, we will discuss the major different types of stem cells used in SCI.


Spinal cord injury (SCI) is one of the most prevalent disabling conditions in the world. It has an annual incidence of 15-40 cases per million [1]. It most commonly affects young, and otherwise healthy, patients [2]. SCI has been divided into four types, based on the gross anatomic findings: 1- Solid cord injury, the least common type, is associated with normal appearance of the spinal cord following injury; 2- Contusion/cavity, the most common type, is associated with areas of hemorrhage and expanding necrosis and cavitation, but with no disruption of the surface of the spinal cord; 3- Laceration, where there is a clear-cut disruption of the surface anatomy; and 4- Massive compression, where the cord is macerated or pulpified to a variable degree [3]. However, such gross findings carry no significant difference in the consequent histological changes [4], which are the major determinant of the post-traumatic functional impairment. These histological changes are divided into two phases, primary and secondary. The primary phase results from the direct traumatic effect of the insult on the neural and vascular structures of the spinal cord. This phase is followed by a more insidious and deleterious phase, the secondary phase. It is associated with ischemic and inflammatory changes, leading to cellular necrosis and apoptosis, scar formation, and prolonged Wallerian degeneration [4]. (Figure 1) These changeshave become a major area of research, intending to identify possible therapeutic targets to interrupts this sequence of events. Moreover,within the last two decades, filling the post traumatic cavitation of the spinal cord with the lost tissue elements derived from stem cells has become one of the main pillars of spinal cord regeneration studies.

Citation: Adeeb N, Hose N, Tubbs RS and Mortazavi MM. Stem Cell Therapy for Spinal Cord Injury: Cellular Options. Austin J Cerebrovasc Dis & Stroke. 2014;1(3): 1012. ISSN: 2381-9103.