• Cord blood;
  • Mesenchymal stem cells;
  • Buerger's disease;
  • Cell transplantation


Buerger's disease, also known as thromboangiitis obliterans, is a nonatherosclerotic, inflammatory, vasoocclusive disease. It is characterized pathologically as a panangiitis of medium and small blood vessels, including both arteries and adjacent veins, especially the distal extremities (the feet and the hands). There is no curative medication or surgery for this disease. In the present study, we transplanted human leukocyte antigen-matched human umbilical cord blood (UCB)-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) into four men with Buerger's disease who had already received medical treatment and surgical therapies. After the stem cell transplantation, ischemic rest pain suddenly disappeared from their affected extremities. The necrotic skin lesions were healed within 4 weeks. In the follow-up angiography, digital capillaries were increased in number and size. In addition, vascular resistance in the affected extremities, compared with the preoperative examination, was markedly decreased due to improvement of the peripheral circulation. Because an animal model of Buerger's disease is absent and also to understand human results, we transplanted human UCB-derived MSCs to athymic nude mice with hind limb ischemia by femoral artery ligation. Up to 60% of the hind limbs were salvaged in the femoral artery-ligated animals. By in situ hybridization, the human UCB-derived MSCs were detected in the arterial walls of the ischemic hind limb in the treated group. Therefore, it is suggested that human UCB-derived MSC transplantation may be a new and useful therapeutic armament for Buerger's disease and similar ischemic diseases.