Study of intrathecal autologous bone marrow mononuclear cell transplantation in intellectual disability

February 14, 2019

Background:  The underlying pathophysiology in intellectual disability  (ID) involves  abnormalities in dendritic branching and connectivity of the neuronal network. This limits the ability of the brain to process information. Conceptually, cellular therapy through its neurorestorative and neuroregenerative properties can counteract these pathogenetic  mechanisms and improve neuronal connectivity.  This improved networking should exhibit as clinical efficacy in patients with ID.

Methods:  To assess the safety and efficacy of cellular therapy in patients with ID, we conducted an open-label proof-of- concept study from October 2011 to December 2015. Patients were divided into two groups: intervention group (n = 29) and rehabilitation group (n = 29). The intervention group underwent cellular transplantation consisting of intrathecal administration of autologous bone marrow mononuclear cells and standard neurorehabilitation. The rehabilitation group underwent only standard neurorehabilitation.

The results of the symptomatic outcomes were compared between the two groups. In the intervention group analysis, the outcome measures used were the intelligence quotient (IQ) and the Wee Functional Independence Measure (Wee-FIM). To compare the pre-intervention and post-intervention results, statistical analysis was done using Wilcoxon’s matched-pairs test for Wee-FIM scores and McNemar’s test for symptomatic improvements and IQ. The effect of age and severity of the disorder were assessed for their impact on the outcome of intervention. Positron emission tomography- computed tomography (PET-CT) brain scan was used as a monitoring tool to study effects of the intervention. Adverse events were monitored for the safety of cellular therapy.

Results: On symptomatic analysis, greater improvements were seen in the intervention group as compared to the rehabilitation group. In the intervention group, the symptomatic improvements, IQ and Wee-FIM were statistically significant.  A significantly  better outcome of the intervention was found in the paediatric age group (<18 years) and patients with milder severity of ID. Repeat PET-CT scan in three patients of the intervention group showed improved metabolism in the frontal, parietal cortex, thalamus, mesial temporal structures and cerebellum. No major adverse events were witnessed.

Conclusions: Cellular transplantation with neurorehabilitation is safe and effective for the treatment of underlying brain deficits in ID.

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