Fetal Mesenchymal Stem-Cell Engraftment in Bone after In Utero Transplantation in a Patient with Severe Osteogenesis Imperfecta

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Background.Mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) are progenitors of mesenchymal tissues such as bone, cartilage, and adipose. Adult human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-matched MSC have been used in cellular therapies of bone disorders such as osteogenesis imperfecta, with promising results.Methods.A female fetus with multiple intrauterine fractures, diagnosed as severe osteogenesis imperfecta, underwent transplantation with allogeneic HLA-mismatched male fetal MSC in the 32nd week of gestation. Engraftment analyses of donor cells, immunologic reaction against donor cells, and the well-being of the patient were assessed.Results.At 9 months of age, on slides stained for osteocalcin or osteopontin, a centromeric XY-specific probe revealed 0.3% of XY-positive cells in a bone biopsy specimen. Whole Y genome fluorescent in situ hybridization staining showed a median of 7.4% Y-positive cells (range, 6.8%–16.6%). Bone histology showed regularly arranged and configurated bone trabeculae. Patient lymphocyte proliferation against donor MSC was not observed in co-culture experiments performed in vitro after MSC injection. Complementary bisphosphonate treatment was begun at 4 months. During the first 2 years of life, three fractures were noted. At 2 years of corrected age, psychomotor development was normal and growth followed the same channel, −5 SD.Conclusions.The authors’ findings show that allogeneic fetal MSC can engraft and differentiate into bone in a human fetus even when the recipient is immunocompetent and HLA-incompatible.

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