Erectile Dysfunction and Stem Cell Therapy

I receive many questions and calls about stem cell therapy in patients with erectile dysfunction.

Here I will give an updated account of recent clinical trials and results from within the last 2-3 years.

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is increasing in prevalence within the United States. Traditionally, ED has been treated with oral medication and a number of other urologic devices. Stem cell therapy has proven to be beneficial in many animal directed studies. Within the last couple of years, results from studies looking at stem cell therapy in human subjects with ED have shown considerable promise.

In a study directed by V. Protogerou, et al., they enrolled 15 patients (45-75 yo) who were divided into three groups. Two groups received adipose-derived stem cells while the third group received platelet lysate plasma. The follow-up periods were 3, 6,9, 12 months. At the time of the publication of this article, the authors five patient had completed three months of follow-up. Of these five patients, the authors found, “In all patients there is a significant improvement in erectile dysfunction.”1

A 2016 review published in The World Journal of Men’s Health found only four published human clinical trials evaluating the efficacy of stem cells in patients with ED. In a 2010 article, seven patients with DM Type II-related ED were enrolled. It is noteworthy that all seven patients were scheduled for penile prostheses prior to enrolling in the study.

Two months after treatment, 6 of 7 patients reported the return of morning erections which was maintained for at least 3 months. Six patients reported increased penile hardness.  With the addition of 100 mg of sildenafil (Viagra), 2 patients were able to achieve erection adequate for coitus (intercourse), and this effect was retained at the fifth month. By the ninth month, one of these patients reported the inability to penetrate even with the addition of the oral agent. Three of the 7 patients agreed that stem-cell therapy had some effect on ED, although it was insufficient. Five of the 7 patients regarded stem-cell therapy as effective for ED when combined with a PDE5i.2

In a 2016 study, the authors found, “Significantly greater improvements in spontaneous erections were reported with higher doses. Overall, 9 of 12 patients reported successful intercourse with vaginal penetration when using medication. Clinical benefits were associated with improvements in peak systolic velocity (at 6 months, this parameter improved to normal in 7 of the 11 patients) and percent penile NO release test (at 6 months, 8 of the 11 patients were in the normal range, versus 2 of 11 at baseline), and these benefits were sustained after 1 year.2

One more relevant study published in 2016 was reviewed. From Denmark, the investigators reported the effects of adipose-derived stem cells on patients with severe ED following prostatectomy. Per study, “Eight of the 17 men recovered erectile function with the ability to accomplish sexual intercourse. Their erectile scores continued to improve over the course of the 6-month study in continent participants…. Of note, positive effects of treatment were absent in incontinent men.” 2

The authors of the review concluded, “Stem-cell therapy is rapidly developing into a viable treatment option for ED patients. With ample preclinical data, 4 published clinical trials, and multiple ongoing clinical trials, it seems that both clinicians and patients are eager to embrace this cutting-edge technology.”2

In summary, stem cell therapy is quickly becoming a viable option for men suffering from ED from either diabetes or complications from a prostatectomy. Due to the short follow-up times, the duration of treatment is still unknown. Further research is needed to evaluate optimal dose, site of injection, and frequency of injections.

  1. Protogerou V, Michalopoulos E, Mallis P, Gontika I, Liakouras C, Stavropoulos-Giokas C, Chrisofos M, Deliveliotis C. Stem cell therapy for erectile dysfunction: Preliminary results from a single-center pilot study in Greece. Hellenic Urology 2017, 29 (3): 34-41
  2. Reed-Maldonado AB, Lue TF. The Current Status of Stem-Cell Therapy in Erectile Dysfunction: A Review. The World Journal of Men’s Health. 2016;34(3):155-164. doi:10.5534/wjmh.2016.34.3.155.