Background and aims: Amputation is the only current option for relief of rest pain or gangrena in patients with severe peripheral arterial disease. Up to now, no effective blood-flow enhancement therapies are available. Autologous bone marrow-derived stem cell transplantation is an arising therapy modality with an option of building new blood vessels through endothelial stem and/or progenitor cells. Patients and methods: Five patients with severe peripheral arterial disorder were treated by autologous bone marrow-derived stem cell therapy. CD34+, CD133+ and CD45± cell number and ratio were determined. CD34+ cells were isolated by magnetic separation and collected into a 10 ml sample. The cell suspension was administered by local intramuscular injections (0.5-1.0 ml injections in the musculus gastrocnemius). The follow-up (before; 1, 3, 6, 9 and 12 months after the autologous bone marrow-derived stem cell therapy) based on clinical (rest pain, walking distance without pain, changes of non-healing ischaemic ulcers, ankle-brachial index) and laboratory (angiography, Color- and Laser-Doppler scan, measurement of transcutaneous oxygen tension and endothel function test) parameters was documented and analyzed. Results: Improvement of pain and walking distance was observed in all five cases. In three cases the non-healing ischaemic ulcers disappeared, in one other case they became smaller and thinner, and in one case no change was realized. The average of ankle-brachial index improved significantly (before: 0.41, twelve months after: 0.83). New collaterals were detected by angiography in three patients, but duplex ultrasonography detected improvement in one patient only. Before and 1, 6 and 12 months after stem cell therapy the transcutaneous oxygen tension changed on the foot from 18.80/16.78/23.83/37.50 mmHg, and on the calf from 36.66/31.25/45.00/37.30 mmHg. The macro- and microcirculation parameters did not show improvement after 1 month, however, after 3, 6, 9 and 12 months improved parameters were recorded. Severe adverse events were not observed. In one case elevated level of serum creatinin phosphokinase, and in another case a mild form of vasculitis were detected. Conclusion: Autologous bone marrow-derived stem cell therapy with isolated CD34+ cells is effective, safe and results in sustained clinical benefit for patients with severe peripheral arterial disease.
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