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The Capital Region of Denmark - a part of Copenhagen University Hospital

Safety and Efficacy of Mesenchymal Stem Cells for Radiation-Induced Xerostomia: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Phase 1/2 Trial (MESRIX)

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BACKGROUND: Salivary gland hypofunction and xerostomia are major complications to head and neck radiotherapy. This trial assessed the safety and efficacy of adipose tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cell (ASC) therapy for radiation-induced xerostomia.

PATIENT AND METHODS: This randomized, placebo-controlled phase 1/2 trial included 30 patients, randomized in a 1:1 ratio to receive ultrasound-guided transplantation of ASCs or placebo to the submandibular glands. Patients had previously received radiotherapy for a T1-2, N0-2A, human papillomavirus-positive, oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma. The primary outcome was the change in unstimulated whole salivary flow rate, measured before and after the intervention. All assessments were performed one month prior (baseline) and one and four months following ASC or placebo administration.

RESULTS: No adverse events were detected. Unstimulated whole salivary flow rates significantly increased in the ASC-arm at one (33%; P = .048) and four months (50%; P = .003), but not in the placebo-arm (P = .6 and P = .8), compared to baseline. The ASC-arm symptom scores significantly decreased on the xerostomia and VAS questionnaires, in the domains of thirst (-22%, P = .035) and difficulties in eating solid foods (-2%, P = .008) after four months compared to baseline. The ASC-arm showed significantly improved salivary gland functions of inorganic element secretion and absorption, at baseline and four months, compared to the placebo-arm. Core-needle biopsies showed increases in serous gland tissue and decreases in adipose and connective tissues in the ASC-arm compared to the placebo-arm (P = .04 and P = .02, respectively). MRIs showed no significant differences between groups in gland size or intensity (P < .05).

CONCLUSIONS: ASC therapy for radiation-induced hypofunction and xerostomia was safe and significantly improved salivary gland functions and patient-reported outcomes. These results should encourage further exploratory and confirmatory trials.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)581-592
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2018

ID: 55218303