We performed a randomized, double-blind, cross-over study to assess the neuroregenerative potential of intravenous granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) followed by infusion of mobilized peripheral blood mononuclear cells (mPBMCs) in children with cerebral palsy (CP).
Children with non-severe CP were enrolled in this study. G-CSF was administered for 5 days, then mPBMCs were collected by apheresis and cryopreserved. One month later (M1), recipients were randomized to receive either mPBMCs or a placebo infusion, and these treatment groups were switched at 7 months (M7) and observed for another 6 months (M13). We assessed the efficacy of treatment by evaluating neurodevelopmental tests, as well as by brain magnetic resonance imaging-diffusion tensor imaging (MRI-DTI) and 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) brain positron emission tomography-computed tomography (PET-CT) scanning to evaluate the anatomical and functional changes in the brain.
Fifty-seven patients aged 4.3 ± 1.9 (range 2–10) years and weighing 16.6 ± 4.9 (range 11.6–56.0) kg were enrolled in this study. The administration of G-CSF as well as the collection and reinfusion of mPBMCs were safe and tolerable. The yield of mPBMCs was comparable to that reported in studies of pediatric donors without CP and patients with nonhematologic diseases. 42.6% of the patients responded to the treatment with higher neurodevelopmental scores than would normally be expected. In addition, larger changes in neurodevelopment test scores were observed in the 1 month after G-CSF administration (M0–M1) than during the 6 months after reinfusion with mPBMCs or placebo (M1–M7 or M7–M13). Patients who received G-CSF followed by mPBMC infusion at 7 months (T7 group) demonstrated significantly more neurodevelopmental improvement than patients who received G-CSF followed by mPBMC infusion at 1 month (T1 group). In contrast to the results of neurodevelopment tests, the results of MRI-DTI at the end of this study showed greater improvement in the T1 group. Although we observed metabolic changes to the cerebellum, thalamus and cerebral cortex in the 18F-FDG brain PET-CT scans, there were no significant differences in such changes between the mPBMC and placebo group or between the T1 and T7 group.
Neurodevelopmental improvement was seen in response to intravenous G-CSF followed by mPBMC reinfusion, particularly to the G-CSF alone even without mPBMC reinfusion. Further studies using a larger number of mPBMCs for the infusion which could be collected by repeated cycles of apheresis or using repeated cycles of G-CSF alone, are needed to clarify the effect of mPBMC reinfusion or G-CSF alone (Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT02983708. Registered 5 December, 2016, retrospectively registered).