Disc regeneration therapy using marrow mesenchymal cell transplantation: a report of two case studies

Takafumi Yoshikawa, Yurito Ueda, Kiyoshi Miyazaki, Munehisa Koizumi, Yoshinori Takakura
Spine 2010 May 15, 35 (11): E475-80

STUDY DESIGN: Marrow mesenchymal cells (MSCs) contain stem cells and possess the ability to regenerate bone, cartilage, and fibrous tissues. Here, we applied this regenerative ability to intervertebral disc regeneration therapy in an attempt to develop a new spinal surgery technique.

OBJECTIVE: We analyzed the regenerative restoration ability of autologous MSCs in the markedly degenerated intervertebral discs.

SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA: Fusion for lumbar intervertebral disc instability improves lumbago. However, fused intervertebral discs lack the natural and physiologic functions of intervertebral discs. If intervertebral discs can be regenerated and repaired, then damage to adjacent intervertebral discs can be avoided. We verified the regenerative ability of MSCs by animal studies, and for the first time, performed therapeutic intervertebral disc regeneration therapy in patients and obtained favorable findings.

METHODS: Subjects were 2 women aged 70 and 67 years; both patients had lumbago, leg pain, and numbness. Myelography and magnetic resonance imaging showed lumbar spinal canal stenosis, and radiograph confirmed the vacuum phenomenon with instability. From the ilium of each patient, marrow fluid was collected, and MSCs were cultured using the medium containing autogenous serum. In surgery, fenestration was performed on the stenosed spinal canal and then pieces of collagen sponge containing autologous MSCs were grafted percutaneously to degenerated intervertebral discs.

RESULTS: At 2 years after surgery, radiograph and computed tomography showed improvements in the vacuum phenomenon in both patients. On T2-weighted magnetic resonance imaging, signal intensity of intervertebral discs with cell grafts was high, thus indicating high moisture contents. Roentgenkymography showed that lumbar disc instability improved. Symptom was alleviated in both patients.

CONCLUSION: The intervertebral disc regeneration therapy using MSC brought about favorable results in these 2 cases. It seems to be a promising minimally invasive treatment.


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