Background and objectives: Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) in children is associated with neurocognitive morbidity. The cause of SNHL is a loss of hair cells in the organ of Corti. There are currently no reparative treatments for SNHL. Numerous studies suggest that cord blood mononuclear cells (human umbilical cord blood, hUCB) allow at least partial restoration of SNHL by enabling repair of a damaged organ of Corti. Our objective is to determine if hUCB is a safe treatment for moderate to severe acquired SNHL in children. Subjects and.
Methods: Eleven children aged 6 months to 6 years with moderate to severe acquired SNHL were treated with intravenous autologous hUCB. The cell dose ranged from 8 to 30 million cells/kg body weight. Safety was assessed by measuring systemic hemodynamics during hUCB infusion. Infusion-related toxicity was evaluated by measuring neurologic, hepatic, renal and pulmonary function before and after infusion. Auditory function, auditory verbal language assessments and MRI with diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) were obtained before and after treatment.
Results: All patients survived, and there were no adverse events. No infusionrelated changes in hemodynamics occurred. No infusion-related toxicity was recorded. Five subjects experienced a reduction in auditory brainstem response (ABR) thresholds. Four of those 5 subjects also experienced an improvement in cochlear nerve latencies. Comparison of MRI with DTI sequences obtained before and after treatment revealed increased fractional anisotropy in the primary auditory cortex in three of five subjects with reduced ABR thresholds. Statistically significant (p<0.05) reductions in ABR thresholds were identified.
Conclusions: TIntravenous hUCB is feasible and safe in children with SNHL.
Keywords: Auditory brainstem response; Diffusion tensor imaging; Human umbilical cord blood; Mesenchymal stem cells; Mononuclear fraction; Otoacoustic emission; Sensorineural hearing loss.