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Cytotherapy. 2018 Oct 11. pii: S1465-3249(18)30605-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jcyt.2018.08.005. [Epub ahead of print]

Intra-articular implantation of autologous bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stromal cells to treat knee osteoarthritis: a randomized, triple-blind, placebo-controlled phase 1/2 clinical trial.



The intra-articular implantation of mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) as a treatment for knee osteoarthritis (OA) is an emerging new therapy. In this study, patients with knee OA received intra-articular implantations of autologous bone marrow-derived MSCs. We sought to assess the safety and efficacy of this implantation.


This was a phase 1/2 single-center, triple-blind, randomized controlled trial (RCT) with a placebo control. The subjects consisted of patients with knee OA randomly assigned to either an intra-articular implantation of MSCs (40?×?106 cells) or 5mL normal saline (placebo). Patients were followed up for 6 months after the implantations. The pain level and function improvements for patient-reported outcomes were assessed based on a visual analog scale (VAS), Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Arthritis Index (WOMAC) and its subscales, walking distance, painless walking distance, standing time and knee flexion compared with the placebo group at 3 and 6 months following the implantations.


Overall, 43 patients (Kellgren-Lawrence grades 2, 3 and 4) were assigned to either the MSCs (n?=?19) or placebo (n?=?24) group. Patients who received MSCs experienced significantly greater improvements in WOMAC total score, WOMAC pain and physical function subscales and painless walking distance compared with patients who received placebo. There were no major adverse events attributed to the MSC therapy.


This randomized, triple-blind, placebo-controlled RCT demonstrated the safety and efficacy of a single intra-articular implantation of 40?×?106 autologous MSCs in patients with knee OA. Intra-articular implantation of MSCs provided significant and clinically relevant pain relief over 6 months versus placebo and could be considered a promising novel treatment for knee OA. We propose that further investigations should be conducted over an extended assessment period and with a larger cohort.

Copyright © 2018. Published by Elsevier Inc.


bone marrow; clinical trial; intra-articular; knee osteoarthritis; mesenchymal stromal cells