• Open Access

Umbilical Cord Blood Therapy Potentiated with Erythropoietin for Children with Cerebral Palsy: A Double-blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial§


  • Author contributions: MY.K.: the principal investigator, conception and design, manuscript writing, provision of patients, data analysis and interpretation, and final approval of manuscript; K.M.: data analysis and interpretation; J.S., JY.K. J.K., and JS.R.: collection and/or assembly of data; MS.K.: provision of study material; SJ.J. and SH.K.: data analysis and interpretation; D.O. and MK.K.: conception and design; SS.K.: data analysis and interpretation.

  • Disclosure of potential conflicts of interest is found at the end of this article.

  • §

    First published online in STEM CELLSEXPRESS December 24, 2012.


Allogeneic umbilical cord blood (UCB) has therapeutic potential for cerebral palsy (CP). Concomitant administration of recombinant human erythropoietin (rhEPO) may boost the efficacy of UCB, as it has neurotrophic effects. The objectives of this study were to assess the safety and efficacy of allogeneic UCB potentiated with rhEPO in children with CP. Children with CP were randomly assigned to one of three parallel groups: the pUCB group, which received allogeneic UCB potentiated with rhEPO; the EPO group, which received rhEPO and placebo UCB; and the Control group, which received placebo UCB and placebo rhEPO. All participants received rehabilitation therapy. The main outcomes were changes in scores on the following measures during the 6 months treatment period: the gross motor performance measure (GMPM), gross motor function measure, and Bayley scales of infant development-II (BSID-II) Mental and Motor scales (18). F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (18F-FDG-PET/CT) and diffusion tensor images (DTI) were acquired at baseline and followed up to detect changes in the brain. In total, 96 subjects completed the study. Compared with the EPO (n = 33) and Control (n = 32) groups, the pUCB (n = 31) group had significantly higher scores on the GMPM and BSID-II Mental and Motor scales at 6 months. DTI revealed significant correlations between the GMPM increment and changes in fractional anisotropy in the pUCB group. 18F-FDG-PET/CT showed differential activation and deactivation patterns between the three groups. The incidence of serious adverse events did not differ between groups. In conclusion, UCB treatment ameliorated motor and cognitive dysfunction in children with CP undergoing active rehabilitation, accompanied by structural and metabolic changes in the brain. STEM CELLS2013;31:581–591