Background aims: The purpose of this study was to observe the clinical effect and safety of umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells (UC-MSCs) in treating spinal cord injury (SCI) by intrathecal injection.
Methods: From January 2008 to October 2010, we treated 22 patients with SCI with UC-MSCs by intrathecal injection; dosage was 1 × 10(6) cells/kg body weight once a week given four times as a course. Four patients received two courses, one patient received three courses and all other patients received one course. American Spinal Injury Association scoring system and International Association of Neurorestoratology Spinal Cord Injury Functional Rating Scale were used to evaluate neural function and ability to perform activities of daily living.
Results: Treatment was effective in 13 of 22 patients; nine patients had no response. Among patients with incomplete SCI, the response to treatment was 81.25%; there was no response to treatment among six patients with complete SCI. Five patients with a response to treatment received two to three courses of therapy, and effects in these patients were further enhanced. In most patients in whom treatment was effective, motor or sensory functions, or both, were improved, and bowel and bladder control ability was improved. In 22 patients 1 month after therapy, algesia, tactile sensation, motion and activity of daily living scale were significantly improved (P < 0.01). During therapy, common adverse effects were headache (one case) and low back pain (one cases); these disappeared within 1-3 days. No treatment-related adverse events occurred during a follow-up period ranging from 3 months to 3 years.
Conclusions: UC-MSC therapy by intrathecal injection is safe and can improve neurologic function and quality of life in most patients with incomplete SCI.
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