Stem Cells and Disc Disease

The intervertebral disc is a shock-absorbing structure located between the vertebrae of the spine. Its main function is to distribute loads evenly throughout the spine and allow for normal motion. The disc is composed of an outer ring of tough, fibrous tissue (the annulus fibrosus) and a softer, jelly-like center (the nucleus pulposus). The cells that make up the intervertebral disc are called nucleus pulposus cells (NPCs). NPCs are a type of stem cell that can divide and differentiate into other cell types, including chondrocytes (cartilage cells) and osteocytes (bone cells). NPCs are responsible for the maintenance and repair of the intervertebral disc. Disc degeneration is a common age-related condition that can lead to pain and disability. It is characterized by the breakdown of the annulus fibrosus and the loss of NPCs. This can cause the disc to collapse and compress the spinal cord or nerves, leading to pain, numbness, and weakness. Disc degeneration is thought to be caused by a combination of mechanical and biochemical factors. Mechanical factors include increased stress on the disc due to weight gain, aging, and spinal degeneration. Biochemical factors include the release of inflammatory factors and enzymes that break down the extracellular matrix. NPCs play a critical role in the maintenance of the intervertebral disc. In the healthy disc, NPCs continuously divide and differentiate into chondrocytes and osteocytes. These cells replace older cells that are lost through normal wear and tear. In the degenerating disc, the number of NPCs decreases, and their ability to divide and differentiate declines. This leads to a loss of cells and the breakdown of the extracellular matrix. There is currently no cure for disc degeneration. However, treatment options are available to help relieve pain and improve function. These include physical therapy, weight loss, and surgery. Stem cell therapy is a promising treatment option for disc degeneration. In this procedure, stem cells are injected into the degenerating disc. The stem cells then divide and differentiate into new NPCs. These new NPCs can help to repair the damaged disc and improve its function. There are a number of clinical trials underway to test the safety and efficacy of stem cell therapy for disc degeneration. These trials will help to determine whether this treatment is safe and effective for this condition.

 "Application of stem cells in the repair of intervertebral disc ...." 11 Feb. 2022, https://stemcellres.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13287-022-02745-y. Accessed 24 Oct. 2022.

 "Stem Cells and Degenerative Disc Disease - SpineUniverse." 17 Sep. 2019, https://www.spineuniverse.com/treatments/pain-management/stem-cells-degenerative-disc-disease. Accessed 24 Oct. 2022.

 "Stem cell therapy for degenerative intervertebral disk disease." 23 Jun. 2017, https://www.mayoclinic.org/medical-professionals/physical-medicine-rehabilitation/news/stem-cell-therapy-for-degenerative-intervertebral-disk-disease/mqc-20437990. Accessed 24 Oct. 2022.

The information below is the recommended stem cell therapy protocol for this condition 

Route of AdministrationDoseTime (Days)Total Cells
IV50,000,0003150,000,000
Myers cocktail/NAD50,000,0002N/A
Exosome IV10,000,00060N/A
Intrathecal (site of injury)50,000,000150,000,000
Spinal Level/Intra discal50,000,000150,000,000
Total250,000,000