Stem cell therapy ‘effective and safe’ for people with diabetic foot, umbrella review finds

Stem cell therapy improves healing and amputation rates in those with diabetic foot, a review of current evidence has found.

The reanalysis of previous studies and research is the first of its kind and has highlighted that stem cell treatment is “effective and safe” for diabetic foot (DF).

While previous studies found that stem cell therapy is effective, there is the risk of potential bias in current evidence.

This latest umbrella review, carried out by researchers in China, evaluated systematic reviews and meta-analyses published up to July 2023. To be included in the review, studies had to include randomised controlled trials (RCTs) on stem cell therapy for diabetic foot.

It covered eight publications, with a total of 26 RCTs. The studies analysed adipose-derived stem cells and peripheral blood-derived mononuclear cells (n=6), bone marrow-derived mononuclear cells (n=4), and human umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells (n=4).

The eight reviews found that stem cell therapy significantly improved the healing rate of diabetic foot, five highlighted a reduction in the amputation rate, four found improved ankle-branchial index (ABI) and transcutaneous oxygen pressure (TcPO2), two reported reduced ulcer size and improved pain-free walking distance, and two found an improvement in the new angiogenesis rate.

The authors said: “Our updated meta-analysis suggests that DF patients can benefit from stem cell therapy, as indicated by effectiveness in measures, including healing rate, amputation rate, ankle-brachial index, transcutaneous oxygen pressure, ulcer size reduction, complete healing time, pain-free walking distance, rest pain score, and new angiogenesis rate.”

They concluded: “Stem cell therapy is effective for patients with [diabetic foot], as it can promise in improving healing rates, reducing amputation rates, enhancing vascular function, and alleviating pain symptoms.”

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