Efficacy of stem cell therapy in ambulatory and nonambulatory children with Duchenne muscular dystrophy - Phase I-II

Degener Neurol Neuromuscul Dis. 2018 Oct 26:8:63-77. doi: 10.2147/DNND.S170087. eCollection 2018.


Purpose: Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is an X-linked recessive pediatric disorder that ultimately leads to progressive muscle degeneration. It has been known that cell-based therapies were used to promote muscle regeneration. The main purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of allogeneic Wharton jelly-derived mesenchymal stem cells therapy in Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Patients and methods: Four ambulatory and five nonambulatory male patients were assessed as having acceptance criteria. Gene expression and immunohistochemical analysis were performed for dystrophin gene expression. The fluorescent in situ hybridization method was used for detection of chimerism and donor-recipient compatibility. Complement dependent lymphocytotoxic crossmatch test and detection of panel reactive antigen were performed. All patients were treated with 2 × 106 cells/kg dose of allogeneic Wharton jelly-derived mesenchymal stem cells via intra-arterial and intramuscular administration. Stability was maintained in patient follow-up tests, which are respiratory capacity tests, cardiac measurements, and muscle strength tests.

Results: The vastus intermedius muscle was observed in one patient with MRI. Chimerism was detected by fluorescent in situ hybridization and mean gene expression was increased to 3.3-fold. An increase in muscle strength measurements and pulmonary function tests was detected. Additionally, we observed two of nine patients with positive panel reactive antigen result.

Conclusion: All our procedures are well tolerated, and we have not seen any application-related complications so far. Our main purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of allogeneic mesenchymal stem cell therapy and determine its suitability and safety as a form of treatment in this untreatable disorder.

Keywords: Duchenne muscular dystrophy; mesenchymal stem cells; panel reactive antigen; treatment.