Background: Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) with their potential to differentiate into mesodermal and non-mesodermal lineages have several immunomodulatory characteris-tics. These properties make them promising tools in cell and gene therapy.
Objective: To evaluate the potential therapeutic applications of autologous MSC in improving clinical manifestations of MS patients.
Methods: Ten patients were included in this pi-lot study. All had progressive disease that had not responded to disease modifying agents including Mitoxantrone. Their Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) score ranged from 3.5 to 6. Patients were injected intrathecally with culture expanded MSCs. They were followed with monthly neurological assessment and a MRI scan at the end of the first year.
Results: During 13 to 26 months of follow up (mean: 19 months), the EDSS of one patient improved from 5 to 2.5 score. Four patients showed no change in EDSS. Five patients’ EDSS increased from 0.5 to 2.5. In the functional system assess-ment, six patients showed some degree of improvement in their sensory, pyramidal, and cerebellar functions. One showed no difference in clinical assessment and three deterio-rated. The result of MRI assessment after 12 months was as following: seven patients with no difference, two showed an extra plaque, and one patient showed decrease in the number of plaques.
Conclusion: This preliminary report emphasizes on the feasibility of autologous MSC for treatment of MS patients. However, in order to draw a definitive conclusion a larger sample size is required.