The Efficacy and Safety of Intra-articular Low Molecular Weight Fraction of Human Serum Albumin for the Management of Moderate to Moderately Severe Knee Osteoarthritis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
Osteoarthritis is a chronic degenerative joint disease that affects weight-bearing joints. Low molecular weight fraction of 5% (LMWF-5A) human serum albumin is an intra-articular injection that emerged for the treatment of knee osteoarthritis. The aim of this review is to assess the efficacy and safety of LMWF-5A versus placebo through a systematic review and meta-analysis. The Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), Medical Literature Analysis and Retrieval System Online (MEDLINE), EBSCO, and ClinicalTrials.gov registry databases were utilized to search for studies. Only randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that evaluated the efficacy of LMWF-5A versus placebo were included. Efficacy endpoints were represented by Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Arthritis Index (WOMAC) A and C scores for pain and function, respectively. Serious adverse events (SAEs), non-serious adverse events (NSAEs), and mortality rates were used to evaluate the safety of the drug. The revised Cochrane risk of bias tool was used for the risk of bias assessment. Seven RCTs (n=2939) that met the inclusion criteria were included. The meta-analysis did not find significant improvement in pain (WOMAC A) (standardized mean difference (SMD)= -0.01, 95% confidence interval (CI) -0.10 - 0.09, P=0.87, I²=30%). Additionally, no significant change in function was noted (WOMAC C) (SMD=0.01, 95% CI -0.08 - 0.10, P=0.87, I²=22%). The pooled analysis did not find a significant difference between LMWF-5A and placebo regarding the incidence of joint swelling (P=0.84), joint stiffness (P=0.53), arthralgia (P=0.53), extremity pain (P=0.45), NSAEs (P=0.21), SAEs (P=0.92), or mortality (P=1.00). However, the subgroup analysis showed a significant reduction of 42% in NSAEs upon administration of 10 mL of LMWF-5A (risk ratio (RR)=0.58, 95% CI 0.35-0.97, P=0.04). In summary, our meta-analysis did not find significant differences between LMWF-5A and placebo regarding the incidence of NSAEs, SAEs, or mortality. On the other hand, LMWF-5A did not demonstrate superiority over saline in terms of efficacy. Therefore, it is not an effective drug for managing knee osteoarthritis.