Effective treatment of Peyronie’s disease remains a challenge, even though men have a wide range of medications, natural remedies, medical procedures, and other options at their disposal. One approach that is under investigation is stem cell therapy for Peyronie’s disease.
Stem cells are like a clean slate: they are unspecialized entities that have an ability to develop into many different types of cells, such as skin, muscle, brain, or red blood cells. Therefore, when stem cells divide in the body, they may remain a stem cell or become another type of cell. One very special characteristic of stem cells is that they can be induced to become specific, such as for a certain organ or function. This ability makes them highly desirable and have great potential for treating a wide spectrum of diseases.
Stem cells also possess antifibrotic, antiapoptotic, and immunomodulatory properties. This means that they can fight the accumulation of fibrous substances, help prevent the death of cells, and assist in regulating and altering immune system response, respectively.
Stem cell therapy for Peyronie’s disease
One of those diseases is Peyronie’s. In a recent review appearing in the April 2017 issue of Expert Opinion on Biological Therapy, the authors pointed out that “there is now increasing evidence for the role of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) as potential treatment to fibrosis,” a major characteristic of Peyronie’s disease. The disease is characterized by fibrous plaques that accumulate on the soft tissue of the penis, resulting in an organ that bends significantly and may be accompanied by pain and difficulty performing sexually.
Initial studies of stem cell therapy for Peyronie’s disease were done in rat models, and the promising results have led to at least two studies undertaken in humans. One of the studies was a clinical trial involving five patients. All of the men were injected with stem cells (specifically, placental matrix–derived mesenchymal stem cells) and followed up after six seeks, three months, and six months. Of the ten plaques that were managed, seven had disappeared completely at three months.
The results of this very small study indicate that use of stem cells may be helpful and effective as a nonsurgical treatment for men with Peyronie’s disease. However, as the authors of a subsequent study point out, “further prospective studies are needed in humans to further elucidate the therapeutic potential of stem cell therapy in PD [Peyronie’s disease].”
Dellis A, Papatsoris A. Stem cell therapy for the treatment of Peyronie’s disease. Expert Opinion on Biological Therapy 2017 Apr; 17(4): 407-13
Levy JA et al. Effects of stem cell treatment in human patients with Peyronie disease. The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association 2015 Oct; 115: e8-313
Sangkum P. Research highlights on stem cell therapy for the treatment of Peyronie’s disease. Translational Andrology and Urology 2016 Jun; 5(3): 363-65