Rationale: A growing number of patients with coronary disease have refractory angina. Preclinical and early-phase clinical data suggest that intramyocardial injection of autologous CD34+ cells can improve myocardial perfusion and function.
Objective: Evaluate the safety and bioactivity of intramyocardial injections of autologous CD34+ cells in patients with refractory angina who have exhausted all other treatment options.
Methods and results: In this prospective, double-blind, randomized, phase II study (ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT00300053), 167 patients with refractory angina received 1 of 2 doses (1×10(5) or 5×10(5) cells/kg) of mobilized autologous CD34+ cells or an equal volume of diluent (placebo). Treatment was distributed into 10 sites of ischemic, viable myocardium with a NOGA mapping injection catheter. The primary outcome measure was weekly angina frequency 6 months after treatment. Weekly angina frequency was significantly lower in the low-dose group than in placebo-treated patients at both 6 months (6.8±1.1 versus 10.9±1.2, P=0.020) and 12 months (6.3±1.2 versus 11.0±1.2, P=0.035); measurements in the high-dose group were also lower, but not significantly. Similarly, improvement in exercise tolerance was significantly greater in low-dose patients than in placebo-treated patients (6 months: 139±151 versus 69±122 seconds, P=0.014; 12 months: 140±171 versus 58±146 seconds, P=0.017) and greater, but not significantly, in the high-dose group. During cell mobilization and collection, 4.6% of patients had cardiac enzyme elevations consistent with non-ST segment elevation myocardial infarction. Mortality at 12 months was 5.4% in the placebo-treatment group with no deaths among cell-treated patients.
Conclusions: Patients with refractory angina who received intramyocardial injections of autologous CD34+ cells (10(5) cells/kg) experienced significant improvements in angina frequency and exercise tolerance. The cell-mobilization and -collection procedures were associated with cardiac enzyme elevations, which will be addressed in future studies.