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Exp Hematol. 1999 Feb;27(2):380-5.

Umbilical cord blood banking for unrelated transplantation: evaluation of cell separation and storage methods.

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Department of Hematology, Clínica Puerta de Hierro, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain.


Cost-efficient umbilical cord blood (UCB) banking requires well-standardized methods of volume reduction and storage. To compare UCB fractionation using a technique of hydroxyethyl starch (HES) sedimentation with the Ficoll (double) and Percoll methods, 50 whole units was allocated randomly to each procedure. HES resulted in a significantly better recovery of mononuclear cells (87.5%), granulocyte/macrophage colony-forming units (CFU-GM) (88.4%), and CD34- cells (87.4%) and lesser volume reduction (85.5%). HES was the least laborious, time consuming, and expensive of the three procedures, costing 3.4- and 4.4-fold less than the Ficoll and Percoll methods, respectively. Five units processed by each method was frozen in 4.5-mL cryotubes under optimal conditions. After thawing, the greatest degree of recovery of viable nucleated cells and number of CFU-GM per unit were obtained using the HES procedure. Using 4.5-mL cryotubes, the calculated number of units that could be stored in 600-L containers was 3.8- and 2.2-fold higher for Ficoll- and Percoll-separated than for HES-separated units, respectively. Nevertheless, the higher direct costs of the density gradient separation procedures outweighed their lower storage cost. For long-term cryopreservation, we assessed the freezing of HES-processed units in 50-mL cryobags and their specifically designed canisters. We found cell recoveries similar to those obtained with cryotubes, but storage capacity was decreased. Special racks designed for these canisters resulted in a 5-fold increase over the number of units stored in standard cryobags. This system also is feasible for Percoll- and Ficoll-separated units, resulting in comparable storage costs for the three separation methods. We conclude that this HES procedure and the 50-mL cryobags constitute a cost-efficient system for large-scale UCB banking.

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