Concise Review: Stem cell interventions for people with cerebral palsy: Systematic review with meta analysis

Iona Novak, Karen Walker, Rod Hunt, Euan M. Wallace, Michael Fahey, Nadia Badawi

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42 Citations (Scopus)


Evidence for stemcells as a potential intervention for cerebral palsy is emerging. Our objectivewas to Q:4 determine the efficacy and safety of stem cells for improving motor and cognitive function of people with cerebral palsy. Searches were conducted in October 2015 in CENTRAL, DARE, MEDLINE, and Cochrane Libraries. Randomized controlled trials and controlled clinical trials of stem cells for cerebral palsy were included. Two authors independently decided upon included trials, extracted data, quality, and risk of bias. The primary outcome was gross motor function. Secondary outcomes were cognitive function and adverse events (AEs). Effects were expressed as standardized mean differences (SMD) with 95 confidence intervals (CI), using a random-effects model. Five trials comprising 328 participants met inclusion criteria. Four cell types were studied: olfactory ensheathing, neural, neural progenitors, and allogeneic umbilical cord blood (UCBs). Transplantation procedures differed from central nervous system neurosurgical transplantation to intravenous/arterial infusion. Participants were followed short-term for only 6 months. Evidence of variable quality indicated a small statistically significant intervention effect from stem cells on gross motor skills (SMD 1.27; 95 CI 0.22, 2.33), with UBCs most effective. There were insufficient and heterogeneous data to compare cognitive effects. Serious AEs were rare (n = 4/135 [3 stem cells; n = 3/139 [2 controls). Stem cells appeared to induce short-term improvements in motor skills. Different types of stem cell interventions were compared, meaning the data were heterogeneous and are a study limitation. Further randomized controlled trials are warranted, using rigorous methodologies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1014-1025
Number of pages12
JournalStem Cells Translational Medicine
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2016


  • Cerebral palsy
  • Efficacy
  • Safety
  • Stem Cells
  • Systematic review

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