Stem cell therapy has been applied in the treatment of acute-on-chronic liver failure (ACLF). However, its clinical efficiency is still debatable. The aim of this systematic review and meta-analysis is to evaluate the clinical efficiency of stem cell therapy in the treatment of ACLF.
The Cochrane Library, OVID, EMBASE, and PUBMED were searched to December 2017. Both randomized and non-randomized studies, assessing stem cell therapy in patients with ACLF, were included. The outcome measures were total bilirubin (TBIL), alanine transaminase (ALT), international normalized ratio (INR), albumin (ALB), and the model for end-stage liver disease (MELD) score. The quality of evidence was assessed by GRADEpro.
Four randomized controlled trials and six non-randomized controlled trials were included. The TBIL levels significantly decreased at 1-, 3-, 12-month after the stem cell therapy (p = 0.0008; p = 0.04; p = 0.007). The ALT levels decreased significantly compared with the control group in the short-term (p < 0.00001). There was no obvious change in the INR level compared with the control groups (p = 0.64). The ALB levels increased markedly as compared with the control groups (p < 0.0001). The significant difference can be found in MELD score between stem cell therapy and control groups (p = 0.008). Further subgroup analysis for 3-month clinical performance according to the stem cell types have also been performed.
This study suggests that the clinical outcomes of stem cell therapy were satisfied in patients with ACLF in the short-term. MSCs may be better than BM-MNCs in the stem cells transplantation of ACLF. However, more attention should focus on clinical trials in large-volume centers.