Background and objectives: The HUC-HEART Trial (ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT02323477) was a controlled, prospective, phase I/II, multicenter, single-blind, three-arm randomized study of intramyocardial delivery of human umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stromal cells (HUC-MSCs) combined with coronary artery bypass-grafting (CABG) in patients with chronic ischemic cardiomyopathy (CIC). The trial aimed to assess (i) the safety and the efficacy of cell transplantation during one-year follow-up, (ii) to compare the efficacy of HUC-MSCs with autologous bone-marrow- derived mononuclear cells (BM-MNCs) in the same clinical settings.
Methods and results: Fifty-four patients who were randomized to receive HUC-MSCs (23×106) (n=26) or BM-MNCs (70×107) (n=12) in combination with CABG surgery. The control patients (n=16) received no cells/vehicles but CABG intervention. All patients were screened at baseline and 1, 3, 6, 12 months after transplantation. Forty-six (85%) patients completed 12 months follow-up. No short/mid-term adverse events were encountered. Decline in NT-proBNP (baseline∼ 6 months) in both cell-treated groups; an increase in left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) (5.4%) and stroke volume (19.7%) were noted (baseline∼6 or 12 months) only in the HUC-MSC group. Decreases were also detected in necrotic myocardium as 2.3% in the control, 4.5% in BM-MNC, and 7.7% in the HUC-MSC groups. The 6-min walking test revealed an increase in the control (14.4%) and HUC-MSC (23.1%) groups.
Conclusions: Significant findings directly related to the intramyocardial delivery of HUC-MSCs justified their efficacy in CIC. Stricter patient selection criteria with precisely aligned cell dose and delivery intervals, rigorous follow-up by detailed diagnostic approaches would further help to clarify the responsiveness to the therapy.
Keywords: Bone marrow MSC; Clinical trial; Ischemic cardiomyopathy; Stem cell therapy; Umbilical cord MSC.