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Injection of Autologous Mesenchymal Cells for the Treatment of Arthritis Has So Far Been Found to be Completely Safe

Background: Injection of autologous mesenchymal stem cells (AMSCs) as a stromal vascular fraction, culture-expanded adipose-derived stem cells, minimally manipulated fat graft, bone marrow aspirate or cultured bone marrow MSCs, for osteo- and inflammatory arthritis have shown good clinical efficacy in many studies. Questions have been raised as to their safety despite no evidence known to us that they are unsafe when used this way. We hypothesized that AMSC injections are completely safe for the treatment of arthritis.

Methods: A PubMed literature search was performed to identify adverse events specifically related to the injection of autologous mesenchymal or hematopoietic stem cells into arthritic joints or intravenously.

Results: 2,011 reported injections were found. No stem cell-specific adverse events were identified. Specifically no infections, tumorigenesis, or chondrolysis from collagenase were found.

Conclusions: Intra-articular injection of autologous mesenchymal stem cells for the treatment of arthritis is completely safe with no stem cell-specific adverse events yet documented, and no increased risk compared with other traditional treatments for arthritis.