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J Hematother. 1999 Apr;8(2):141-55.

Fetal cord blood as an alternative source of hematopoietic progenitor cells: immunophenotype, maternal cell contamination, and ex vivo expansion.

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  • 1Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, University of Cologne, Germany.


The present study was performed to investigate the character of hematopoietic progenitor cells in fetal cord blood (CB). Thirty blood samples from fetuses at a median of 24 weeks of gestation (range 19-29) and 30 neonatal CB samples were analyzed for their immunophenotype by three-color flow cytometry and examined for the presence of female cells by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH). We tested the effects of different cytokine combinations (rhIL-1beta, rhIL-3, rhIL-6, rh erythropoietin [rhEPO], rhGM-CSF plus rhSCF, and rhSCF plus rhflt3-ligand) on the differentiation of 100 CD34+-enriched neonatal CB cells for up to 21 days. Ex vivo expansion of 32 unselected fetal blood samples cells was performed in the presence of rhSCF and rhflt3-ligand. The percentage of CD34+ cells in fetal blood was significantly higher compared with neonatal CB (1.24%+/-0.82% versus 0.33%+/-0.18%, p = 0.0001) and inversely correlated with the age of gestation. The contamination of fetal and neonatal CB with maternal cells was low (1.72%+/-0.89%, range 1.0%-4.0%). By using rhflt3-ligand we were able to expand committed progenitor cells while maintaining cells with stem cell function. The use of expanded fetal immature progenitors might have implications for in utero transplantation and autologous gene therapy.

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