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Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011 Dec 7;(12):CD008347. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD008347.pub2.

Local intramuscular transplantation of autologous mononuclear cells for critical lower limb ischaemia.

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  • 1School of Public Health, Tehran University of Medical Sciences (TUMS), Enghelab Street, Tehran, Tehran, Iran, 14395-195.



Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a major health problem and in about 1% to 2% of patients the disease progresses to critical limb ischaemia (CLI). In a substantial number of patients with CLI, no effective treatment option other than amputation is available and around a quarter of these patients will require a major amputation during the following year.


To determine the effectiveness and safety of autologous adult bone marrow derived mononuclear cells (BMMNCs) as a treatment for CLI.


The Cochrane Peripheral Vascular Diseases Group searched their Specialised Register (last searched November 2010) and CENTRAL (2010, Issue 4). We searched the reference lists of identified articles.


All randomised controlled trials of CLI in which participants were randomly allocated to intramuscular administration of autologous adult BMMNCs or control (either no intervention or conventional conservative therapy) were included. Studies on patients with intermittent claudication were not included.


Two authors independently selected trials, assessed trials for eligibility and methodological quality, and extracted data. Disagreements were resolved by consensus or by the third author.


Thirty-seven potential studies were identified after initial screening of titles and abstracts. Only two small studies, with a combined total of 57 patients, met our inclusion criteria and were finally included. In one study the effects of intramuscular injections of BMMNCs in the ischaemic lower limbs of patients with CLI were compared with control (standard conservative treatment). No deaths were reported and no significant difference was observed between the two groups for either pain (P = 0.37) or the ankle brachial pressure index (ABI) parameter. However, the treatment group showed a significantly smaller proportion of participants undergoing amputation compared with the control group (P = 0.026).In the other study, following subcutaneous injections of granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) for five days peripheral blood derived mononuclear cells were collected and then transplanted by intramuscular injections into ischaemic lower limbs. The effects were compared with daily intravenous prostaglandin E1 injections (control group). No deaths were reported. Pain reduction was greater in the treatment group than in the control group (P < 0.001) as was increase in ABI (mean increase 0.13 versus 0.02, P < 0.01). The treatment group experienced a statistically significant increase in pain-free walking distance compared with the control group (mean increase 306.4 m versus 78.6 m, P = 0.007). A smaller proportion of participants underwent amputation in the treatment group compared with the control group (0% versus 36%, P = 0.007).


The data from the published trials suggest that there is insufficient evidence to support this treatment. These results were based on only two trials which had a very small number of participants. Therefore evidence from larger randomised controlled trials is needed in order to provide adequate statistical power to assess the role of intramuscular mononuclear cell implantation in patients with CLI.

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