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Cell Transplant. 2014 Apr;23(6):729-45. doi: 10.3727/096368913X664540. Epub 2013 Feb 26.

Autologous bone marrow-derived cell therapy combined with physical therapy induces functional improvement in chronic spinal cord injury patients.

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Department of Immunology, Military Medical Academy, Cairo, Egypt.


Spinal cord injuries (SCI) cause sensory loss and motor paralysis. They are normally treated with physical therapy, but most patients fail to recover due to limited neural regeneration. Here we describe a strategy in which treatment with autologous adherent bone marrow cells is combined with physical therapy to improve motor and sensory functions in early stage chronic SCI patients. In a phase I/II controlled single-blind clinical trial ( identifier: NCT00816803), 70 chronic cervical and thoracic SCI patients with injury durations of at least 12 months were treated with either intrathecal injection(s) of autologous adherent bone marrow cells combined with physical therapy or with physical therapy alone. Patients were evaluated with clinical and neurological examinations using the American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) Impairment Scale (AIS), electrophysiological somatosensory-evoked potential, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and functional independence measurements. Chronic cervical and thoracic SCI patients (15 AIS A and 35 AIS B) treated with autologous adherent bone marrow cells combined with physical therapy showed functional improvements over patients in the control group (10 AIS A and 10 AIS B) treated with physical therapy alone, and there were no long-term cell therapy-related side effects. At 18 months posttreatment, 23 of the 50 cell therapy-treated cases (46%) showed sustained functional improvement. Compared to those patients with cervical injuries, a higher rate of functional improvement was achieved in thoracic SCI patients with shorter durations of injury and smaller cord lesions. Therefore, when combined with physical therapy, autologous adherent bone marrow cell therapy appears to be a safe and promising therapy for patients with chronic SCI of traumatic origin. Randomized controlled multicenter trials are warranted.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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