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Bone Marrow Transplant. 1999 Nov;24(9):965-70.

The number of nucleated cells reflects the hematopoietic content of umbilical cord blood for transplantation.

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  • 1Department of Hematology, Leiden University Medical Center, The Netherlands.


A single umbilical cord blood (UCB) collection may contain sufficient hematopoietic stem cells to achieve engraftment and repopulation of the hematopoietic system of children and adults after myeloablative therapy. The hematopoietic potential of a UCB unit is often defined by the number of CD34+ cells or the number of colony-forming units as measured in semisolid hematopoietic progenitor cell (HPC) cultures. However, these assays are relatively difficult to standardize between UCB banks. The number of nucleated cells infused per kilogram body weight of the recipient is also reported to be a significant factor in the speed of recovery of neutrophils and platelets after transplantation. To analyze which parameters could be used to evaluate the hematopoietic potential of a UCB graft, we evaluated almost 300 UCB units that were collected for banking for unrelated transplantation. A strong correlation was found between the frequencies of CD34+ cells and the HPC as measured in semi-solid medium cultures. From the various leukocyte subpopulations, the concentration and total numbers of nucleated cells correlated best with both the HPC content and the number of CD34+ cells. Differentiation of these nucleated cells into subsets of leukocytes offered no advantage for better prediction of HPC or CD34+ cells. These results indicate that the nucleated cell count probably reflects the hematopoietic potential of a UCB graft, and may for that reason correlate with the speed of engraftment after transplantation.

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