Background aims: The potential of cell therapies to improve neurological function in subjects with spinal cord injury (SCI) is currently under investigation. In this context, the choice of cell type, dose, route and administration regimen are key factors. Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) can be easily obtained, expanded and are suitable for autologous transplantation. Here we conducted a pilot study that evaluated safety, feasibility and potential efficacy of intralesional MSCs transplantation performed through image-guided percutaneous injection, in subjects with chronic complete SCI.
Methods: Five subjects with chronic traumatic SCI (>6 months), at thoracic level, classified as American Spinal Cord Injury Association impairment scale (AIS) grade A, complete injury, were included. Somatosensory evoked potentials (SSEP), spinal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and urodynamics were assessed before and after treatment. Autologous MSCs were injected directly into the lesion site through percutaneous injection guided by computerized tomography (CT).
Results: Tomography-guided percutaneous cell transplantation was a safe procedure without adverse effects. All subjects displayed improvements in spinal cord independence measure (SCIM) scores and functional independence measure (FIM), mainly due to improvements in bowel movements and regularity. Three subjects showed improved sensitivity to tactile stimulation. Two subjects improved AIS grade to B, incomplete injury, although this was sustained in only one of them during the study follow-up.
Conclusion: Autologous bone marrow MSC transplantation, performed through CT-guided percutaneous injection, was shown to be safe and feasible. Further studies are required to demonstrate efficacy of this therapeutic scheme.
Keywords: cell therapy; clinical study; mesenchymal stromal cells; spinal cord injury.
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