Autologous umbilical cord blood transfusion in very young children with type 1 diabetes

Diabetes Care. 2009 Nov;32(11):2041-6. doi: 10.2337/dc09-0967.


Objective: Interest continues to grow regarding the therapeutic potential for umbilical cord blood therapies to modulate autoimmune disease. We conducted an open-label phase I study using autologous umbilical cord blood infusion to ameliorate type 1 diabetes.

Research design and methods: Fifteen patients diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and for whom autologous umbilical cord blood was stored underwent a single intravenous infusion of autologous cells and completed 1 year of postinfusion follow-up. Intensive insulin regimens were used to optimize glycemic control. Metabolic and immunologic assessments were performed before infusion and at established time periods thereafter.

Results: Median (interquartile range [IQR]) age at infusion was 5.25 (3.1-7.3) years, with a median postdiagnosis time to infusion of 17.7 (10.9-26.5) weeks. No infusion-related adverse events were observed. Metabolic indexes 1 year postinfusion were peak C-peptide median 0.50 ng/ml (IQR 0.26-1.30), P = 0.002; A1C 7.0% (IQR 6.5-7.7), P = 0.97; and insulin dose 0.67 units * kg(-1) * day(-1) (IQR 0.55-0.77), P = 0.009. One year postinfusion, no changes were observed in autoantibody titers, regulatory T-cell numbers, CD4-to-CD8 ratio, or other T-cell phenotypes.

Conclusions: Autologous umbilical cord blood transfusion in children with type 1 diabetes is safe but has yet to demonstrate efficacy in preserving C-peptide. Larger randomized studies as well as 2-year postinfusion follow-up of this cohort are needed to determine whether autologous cord blood-based approaches can be used to slow the decline of endogenous insulin production in children with type 1 diabetes.

Trial registration: NCT00305344.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Blood Transfusion, Autologous / methods
  • C-Peptide / blood
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / drug therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / immunology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / therapy*
  • Fetal Blood / transplantation*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Infant
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Insulin / therapeutic use
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Time Factors


  • Blood Glucose
  • C-Peptide
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Insulin

Associated data