Context: Previous studies have suggested that bone marrow cell injection may improve myocardial perfusion and left ventricular (LV) function in patients with chronic myocardial ischemia.
Objective: To investigate the effect of intramyocardial bone marrow cell injection on myocardial perfusion and LV function in patients with chronic myocardial ischemia.
Design, setting, and patients: Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial at a Netherlands university hospital, May 1, 2005-March 3, 2008 (6-month follow-up ended September 2008) of 50 patients with chronic myocardial ischemia (mean age [SD], 64  years; 43 men).
Inclusion criteria: severe angina pectoris despite optimal medical therapy and myocardial ischemia. All patients were ineligible for conventional revascularization.
Interventions: Intramyocardial injection of 100 x 10(6) autologous bone marrow-derived mononuclear cells or placebo solution.
Main outcome measures: Primarily, the summed stress score, a 17-segment score for stress myocardial perfusion assessed by Tc-99m tetrofosmin single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT). Secondary included LV ejection fraction (LVEF), Canadian Cardiovascular Society (CCS) class, and Seattle Angina Questionnaire quality-of-life score (mean difference >5% considered clinically significant).
Results: After 3-month follow-up, the summed stress score (mean [SD]) improved from 23.5 (4.7) to 20.1 (4.6) (P < .001) in the bone marrow cell group, compared with a decrease from 24.8 (5.5) to 23.7 (5.4) (P = .004) in the placebo group. In the bone marrow cell-treated patients who underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), a 3% absolute increase in LVEF was observed at 3 months (95% CI, 0.5% to 4.7%; n = 18), but the placebo group showed no improvement. CCS angina score improved significantly in the bone marrow cell group (6-month absolute difference, -0.79; 95% CI, -1.10 to -0.48; P < .001) compared with no significant improvement in the placebo group. Quality-of-life score increased from 56% (9%) to 64% (12%) at 3 months and 69% (12%) at 6 months in bone marrow cell-treated patients, compared with a smaller increase in the placebo group from 57% (11%) to 61% (14%) to 64% (17%). The improvements in CCS class and quality of life score were significantly greater in bone marrow cell-treated patients than in placebo-treated patients (P = .03 and P = .04, respectively).
Conclusions: In this short-term study of patients with chronic myocardial ischemia refractory to medical treatment, intramyocardial bone marrow cell injection resulted in a statistically significant but modest improvement in myocardial perfusion compared with placebo. Further studies are required to assess long-term results and efficacy for mortality and morbidity.
Trial registrations: trialregister.nl Identifier: NTR400 and isrctn.org Identifier: ISRCTN58194927.