Stem cell therapy has been proposed to be an alternative therapy in patients with critical limb ischemia (CLI), not eligible for endovascular or surgical revascularization. We compared the therapeutic effects of intramuscular (IM) and intra-arterial (IA) delivery of bone marrow cells
(BMCs) and investigated the factors associated with therapeutic benefits. Forty-one patients (mean age, 66 ± 10 years; 35 males) with advanced CLI (Rutherford category, 5 and 6) not eligible for revascularization were randomized to treatment with 40 ml BMCs using local IM (n
= 21) or selective IA infusion (n = 20). Primary endpoints were limb salvage and wound healing. Secondary endpoints were changes in transcutaneous oxygen pressure (tcpO2), quality-of-life questionnaire (EQ5D), ankle-brachial index (ABI), and pain scale (0‐10). Patients
with limb salvage and wound healing were considered to be responders to BMC therapy. At 6-month follow-up, overall limb salvage was 73% (27/37) and 10 subjects underwent major amputation. Four patients died unrelated to stem cell therapy. There was significant improvement in tcpO2
(15 ± 10 to 29 ± 13 mmHg, p < 0.001), pain scale (4.4 ± 2.6 to 0.9 ± 1.4, p < 0.001), and EQ5D (51 ± 15 to 70 ± 13, p < 0.001) and a significant decrease in the Rutherford category of CLI (5.0 ± 0.2 to 4.3 ±
1.6, p < 0.01). There were no differences among functional parameters in patients undergoing IM versus IA delivery. Responders (n = 27) were characterized by higher CD34+ cell counts in the bone marrow concentrate (CD34+ 29 ± 15×106
vs. 17 ± 12×106, p < 0.05) despite a similar number of total nucleated cells (4.3 ± 1.4×109 vs. 4.1 ± 1.2×109, p= 0.66) and by a lower level of C-reactive protein (18 ± 28 vs. 100 ±
96 mg/L, p < 0.05) as well as serum leukocytes (8.3 ± 2.1×109/L vs. 12.3 ± 4.5×109/L, p < 0.05) as compared with nonresponders (10 patients). Both IM and IA delivery of autologous stem cells are effective therapeutic strategies
in patients with CLI. A higher concentration of CD34+ cells and a lower degree of inflammation are associated with better clinical therapeutic responses.
Cell Transplantation publishes original, peer-reviewed research and review articles on the subject of cell transplantation and its application to human diseases. To ensure high-quality contributions from all areas of transplantation, separate section editors and editorial boards have been established. Articles deal with a wide range of topics including physiological, medical, preclinical, tissue engineering, and device-oriented aspects of transplantation of nervous system, endocrine, growth factor-secreting, bone marrow, epithelial, endothelial, and genetically engineered cells, among others. Basic clinical studies and immunological research papers are also featured. To provide complete coverage of this revolutionary field, Cell Transplantation will report on relevant technological advances, and ethical and regulatory considerations of cell transplants. Cell Transplantation is now an Open Access journal starting with volume 18 in 2009, and therefore there will be an inexpensive publication charge, which is dependent on the number of pages, in addition to the charge for color figures. This will allow work to be disseminated to a wider audience and also entitle the corresponding author to a free PDF, as well as prepublication of an unedited version of the manuscript.