Preclinical stem cell therapy in fetuses with myelomeningocele: A systematic review and meta-analysis.


Kunpalin Y(1)(2), Subramaniam S(3), Perin S(3), Gerli MFM(3)(4), Bosteels J(2)(5), Ourselin S(6), Deprest J(1)(2)(7), De Coppi P(2)(3), David AL(1)(2).
Author information:
(1)Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Institute for Women's Health, University College London, London, UK.
(2)Department of Development and Regeneration, Cluster Woman and Child, Biomedical Sciences, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.
(3)Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, University College London, London, UK.
(4)Division of Surgery and Interventional Science, Royal Free Hospital, University College London, London, UK.
(5)Cochrane Belgium, Belgian Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine
(Cebam), Leuven, Belgium.
(6)School of Biomedical Engineering & Imaging Sciences, King's College London, London, UK.
(7)Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University Hospitals Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.


OBJECTIVE: We performed a systematic review to summarize the efficacy and safety of in utero stem cells application in preclinical models with myelomeningocele (MMC). METHODS: The study was registered with PROSPERO (CRD42019160399). We searched MEDLINE, Embase, Web of Science, Scopus and CENTRAL for publications articles on stem cell therapy in animal fetuses with MMC until May 2020. Publication quality was assessed by the SYRCLE's tool. Meta-analyses were pooled if studies were done in the same animal model providing similar type of stem cell used and outcome measurements. Narrative synthesis was performed for studies that could not be pooled. RESULTS: Nineteen and seven studies were included in narrative and quantitative syntheses, respectively. Most used mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) and primarily involved ovine and rodent models. Both intra-amniotic injection of allogeneic amniotic fluid (AF)-MSCs in rat MMC model and the application of human placental (P)-MSCs to the spinal cord during fetal surgery in MMC ovine model did not compromise fetal survival rates at term (rat model, relative risk [RR] 1.03, 95% CI 0.92-1.16; ovine model, RR 0.94, 95% CI 0.78-1.13). A single intra-amniotic injection of allogeneic AF-MSCs into rat MMC model was associated with a higher rate of complete defect coverage compared to saline injection (RR 16.35, 95% CI 3.27-81.79). The incorporation of human P-MSCs as a therapeutic adjunct to fetal surgery in the ovine MMC model significantly improved sheep locomotor rating scale after birth (mean difference 5.18, 95% CI 3.36-6.99). CONCLUSIONS: Stem cell application during prenatal period in preclinical animal models is safe and effective.