Transplantation of bone marrow cells into the injured spinal cord has been found to improve neurologic functions in experimental animal studies. However, it is unclear whether bone marrow cells can similarly improve the neurologic functions of complete spinal cord injury (SCI) in human patients. To address this issue, we evaluated the therapeutic effects of autologous bone marrow cell transplantation (BMT) in conjunction with the administration of granulocyte macrophage-colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF) in six complete SCI patients. BMT in the injury site (1.1 × 106 cells/μL in a total of 1.8 mL) and subcutaneous GM-CSF administration were performed on five patients. One patient was treated with GM-CSF only. The follow-up periods were from 6 to 18 months, depending on the patients. Sensory improvements were noted immediately after the operations. Sensory recovery in the sacral segment was noted mainly 3 weeks to 7 months postoperatively. Significant motor improvements were noted 3 to 7 months postoperatively. Four patients showed neurologic improvements in their American Spiral Injury Association Impairment Scale (AIS) grades (from A to C). One patient improved to AIS grade B from A and the last patient remained in AIS grade A. No immediate worsening of neurologic symptoms was found. Side effects of GM-CSF treatment such as a fever (>38°C) and myalgia were noted. Serious complications increasing mortality and morbidity were not found. The follow-up study with magnetic resonance imaging 4-6 months after injury showed slight enhancement within the zone of BMT. Syrinx formation was not definitely found. BMT and GM-CSF administration represent a safe protocol to efficiently manage SCI patients, especially those with acute complete injury. To demonstrate the full therapeutic value of this protocol, long-term and more comprehensive case-control clinical studies are required.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cell Biology