Intra-articular injection of two different doses of autologous bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells versus hyaluronic acid in the treatment of knee osteoarthritis: multicenter randomized controlled clinical trial (phase I/II)
Lamo-Espinosa JM (1), Mora G (1), Blanco JF (2,3), Granero-Moltó F (1,3,4,5), Nuñez-Córdoba JM (5,6,7), Sánchez-Echenique C (1), Bondía JM (8), Aquerreta JD (8), Andreu EJ (3,4), Ornilla E (9), Villarón EM (3,10,11), Valentí-Azcárate A (1), Sánchez-Guijo F (3,10,11), Del Cañizo MC (3,10,11), Valentí-Nin JR (1), Prósper F (12,13,14,15).
Mesenchymal stromal cells are a promising option to treat knee osteoarthritis. Their safety and usefulness must be confirmed and the optimal dose established. We tested increasing doses of bone marrow mesenchymal stromal cells (BM-MSCs) in combination with hyaluronic acid in a randomized clinical trial.
A phase I/II multicenter randomized clinical trial with active control was conducted. Thirty patients diagnosed with knee OA were randomly assigned to intraarticularly administered hyaluronic acid alone (control), or together with 10 × 106 or 100 × 106 cultured autologous BM-MSCs, and followed up for 12 months.
Pain and function were assessed using VAS and WOMAC and by measuring the knee motion range. X-ray and magnetic resonance imaging analyses were performed to analyze joint damage.
No adverse effects were reported after BM-MSC administration or during follow-up. BM-MSC-administered patients improved according to VAS during all follow-up evaluations and median value (IQR) for control, low-dose and high-dose groups change from 5 (3, 7), 7 (5, 8) and 6 (4, 8) to 4 (3, 5), 2 (1, 3) and 2 (0,4) respectively at 12 months (low-dose vs control group p = 0.005 and high-dose vs control group p < 0.009).
BM-MSC-administered patients were also superior according to WOMAC, although improvement in control and low-dose patients could not be significantly sustained beyond 6 months. On the other hand, the BM-MSC high-dose group exhibited an improvement of 16.5 (12, 19) points at 12 months (p < 0.01).
Consistent with WOMAC and VAS values, motion ranges remained unaltered in the control group but improved at 12 months with BM-MSCs. X-ray revealed a reduction of the knee joint space width in the control group that was not seen in BM-MSCs high-dose group. MRI (WORMS protocol) showed that joint damage decreased only in the BM-MSC high-dose group, albeit slightly.
The single intraarticular injection of in vitro expanded autologous BM-MSCs together with HA is a safe and feasible procedure that results in a clinical and functional improvement of knee OA, especially when 100 × 106 cells are administered. These results pave the way for a future phase III clinical trial.