To assess the safety and therapeutic efficacy of autologous human bone marrow cell (BMC) transplantation and the administration of granulocyte macrophage-colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF), a phase I/II open-label and nonrandomized study was conducted on 35 complete spinal cord injury patients. The BMCs were transplanted by injection into the surrounding area of the spinal cord injury site within 14 injury days (n = 17), between 14 days and 8 weeks (n = 6), and at more than 8 weeks (n = 12) after injury. In the control group, all patients (n = 13) were treated only with conventional decompression and fusion surgery without BMC transplantation. The patients underwent preoperative and follow-up neurological assessment using the American Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale (AIS), electrophysiological monitoring, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The mean follow-up period was 10.4 months after injury. At 4 months, the MRI analysis showed the enlargement of spinal cords and the small enhancement of the cell implantation sites, which were not any adverse lesions such as malignant transformation, hemorrhage, new cysts, or infections. Furthermore, the BMC transplantation and GM-CSF administration were not associated with any serious adverse clinical events increasing morbidities. The AIS grade increased in 30.4% of the acute and subacute treated patients (AIS A to B or C), whereas no significant improvement was observed in the chronic treatment group. Increasing neuropathic pain during the treatment and tumor formation at the site of transplantation are still remaining to be investigated. Long-term and large scale multicenter clinical study is required to determine its precise therapeutic effect.
Disclosure of potential conflicts of interest is found at the end of this article.