A randomised double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of allogeneic umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stem cell for lupus nephritis

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Abstract

Objective

We evaluate the efficacy of human umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stem cell (hUC-MSC) for the treatment of lupus nephritis (LN). Previous reports showed hUC-MSC could have dramatic treatment effect.

Methods

Eighteen patients with WHO class III or IV LN were randomly assigned to hUC-MSC (dose 2×108 cells) or placebo. All patients received standard immunosuppressive treatment, which consisted of intravenous methylprednisolone and cyclophosphamide, followed by maintenance oral prednisolone and mycophenolate mofetil.

Results

Remission occurred in 9 of 12 patients (75%) in the hUC-MSC group and 5 of 6 patients (83%) in the placebo group. Remission was defined as stabilisation or improvement in renal function, reduction in urinary red cells and protein. A similar proportion of patients on hUC-MSC and placebo achieved complete remission. Improvements in serum albumin, complement, renal function, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Disease Activity Index and British Isles Lupus Assessment Group scores were similar in both groups. One patient on placebo had a stroke and another had ascites. One patient on hUC-MSC had leucopenia, pneumonia and subcutaneous abscess and another died of severe pneumonia. The trial was abandoned after 18 patients were enrolled when it had become obvious it would not demonstrate a positive treatment effect.

Conclusion

hUC-MSC has no apparent additional effect over and above standard immunosuppression.

Trial registration number

NCT01539902; Results.

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