Phase 1–2 pilot clinical trial in patients with decompensated liver cirrhosis treated with bone marrow–derived endothelial progenitor cells
The aim of this nonrandomized, open label, phase 1 clinical trial was to evaluate the safety and the feasibility of the treatment with autologous bone marrow–derived endothelial progenitor cells (EPC) in decompensated liver cirrhosis. In addition, the changes in liver function and hepatic venous pressure gradient (HVPG) and their relation with the characteristics of the cellular product were analyzed. Twelve patients with Child-Pugh ≥8 liver cirrhosis underwent bone marrow harvest forex vivodifferentiation of EPC. The final product was administered through the hepatic artery in a single administration. Patients underwent clinical and radiologic follow-up for 12 months. The phenotype and the ability to produce cytokines and growth factors of the final cellular suspension were analyzed. Eleven patients were treated (feasibility 91%). No treatment-related severe adverse events were observed as consequence of any study procedure or treatment. Model for end-stage liver disease score improved significantly (P0.042) in the first 90 days after cells administration and 5 of the 9 patients alive at 90 days showed a decreased of HVPG. There was a direct correlation between the expression of acetylated-low density lipoprotein and von Willebrand factor in the cellular product and the improvement in liver function and HVPG. The treatment with EPCs in patients with decompensated liver cirrhosis is safe and feasible and might have therapeutic potential. Patients receiving a higher amount of functionally active EPC showed an improvement of liver function and portal hypertension suggesting that the potential usefulness of these cells for the treatment of liver cirrhosis deserves further evaluation.