Background: Mesenchymal stromal cells are a safe and promising option to treat knee osteoarthritis as previously demonstrated in different clinical trials. However, their efficacy, optimal dose and addition of adjuvants must be determined. Here, we evaluated the clinical effects of a dose of 100 × 106 bone marrow mesenchymal stromal cells (BM-MSCs) in combination with Platelet Rich Plasma (PRGF®) as adjuvant in a randomized clinical trial.

Methods: A phase II, multicenter, randomized clinical trial with active control was conducted. Sixty patients diagnosed with knee OA were randomly assigned to 3 weekly doses of PRGF® or intraarticular administration of 100 × 106 cultured autologous BM-MSCs plus PRGF®. Patients were followed up for 12 months, and pain and function were assessed using VAS and WOMAC and by measuring the knee range of motion range. X-ray and magnetic resonance imaging analyses were performed to analyze joint damage.

Results: No adverse effects were reported after BM-MSC administration or during follow-up. According to VAS, the mean value (SD) for PRGF® and BM-MSC with PRGF® went from 5 (1.8) to 4.5 (2.2) (p = 0.389) and from 5.3 (1.9) to 3.5 (2.5) (p = 0.01), respectively at 12 months. In WOMAC, the mean (SD) baseline and 12-month overall WOMAC scores in patients treated with PRGF® was 31.9 (16.2) and 22.3 (15.8) respectively (p = 0.002) while that for patients treated with BM-MSC plus PRGF® was 33.4 (18.7) and 23.0 (16.6) (p = 0.053). Although statistical significances between groups have been not detected, only patients being treated with BM-MSC plus PRGF® could be considered as a OA treatment responders following OARSI criteria. X-ray and MRI (WORMS protocol) revealed no changes in knee joint space width or joint damage.

Conclusions: Treatment with BM-MSC associated with PRGF® was shown to be a viable therapeutic option for osteoarthritis of the knee, with clinical improvement at the end of follow-up. Further phase III clinical trials would be necessary to confirm the efficacy. Trial registration Clinical Trials.gov identifier NCT02365142. Nº EudraCT: 2011-006036-23.

Keywords: Bone marrow-mesenchymal stromal cells; Knee osteoarthritis; Non-surgical management; Stem cell therapy.

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