Intra-articular injection of expanded autologous bone marrow mesenchymal cells in moderate and severe knee osteoarthritis is safe: a phase I/II studyAl-Najar, M., Khalil, H., Al-Ajlouni, J. et al.
Knee osteoarthritis (KOA) is a major health problem especially in the aging population. There is a need for safe treatment that restores the cartilage and reduces the symptoms. The use of stem cells is emerging as a possible option for the moderate and severe cases. This study aimed at testing the safety of autologous bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (BM-MSCs) expanded in vitro when given intra-articularly to patients with stage II and III KOA. As a secondary end point, the study tested the ability of these cells to relieve symptoms and restore the knee cartilage in these patients as judged by normalized knee injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score (KOOS) and by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Thirteen patients with a mean age of 50 years suffering from KOA stages II and III were given two doses of BM-MSCs 1 month apart totaling 61 × 106 ± 0.6 × 106 by intra-articular injection in a phase I prospective clinical trial. Each patient was followed for a minimum of 24 months for any adverse events and for clinical outcome using normalized KOOS. Cartilage thickness was assessed by quantitative MRI T2 at 12 months of follow-up.
No severe adverse events were reported up to 24 months follow-up. Normalized KOOS improved significantly. Mean knee cartilage thickness measured by MRI improved significantly.
BM-MSCs given intra-articularly are safe in knee osteoarthrosis. Despite the limited number of patients in this study, the procedure described significantly improved the KOOS and knee cartilage thickness, indicating that they may enhance the functional outcome as well as the structural component.