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Acta Paediatr. 2007 Apr;96(4):521-5.

Circulating stem cells in extremely preterm neonates.

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Department of Pediatrics, Division of Perinatal Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520-8064, USA.



To measure circulating CD34+ cell levels in premature neonates and to correlate the initial CD34+ counts with measures of pulmonary function and neonatal morbidity.


CD34+ cell counts were measured in the peripheral blood of preterm neonates (gestational ages 24-32 weeks) ventilated for respiratory disease at <48 h of life, and at the start of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th weeks of life. Data pertaining to neonatal demographics and short-term outcomes were collected. Pulmonary function tests were performed to coincide with CD34+ sampling.


Thirty preterm neonates with median gestational age of 24 weeks and birth weight of 641 g were analysed. A mean of 99.4 CD34+ cells per microliter was observed in the 1st week of life with a decline to 54.4 cells per microliter by the 4th week. An inverse correlation between initial CD34+ count and gestational age (p=0.01) was observed. No significant correlations were observed with measures of pulmonary function or neonatal morbidities.


Extremely premature neonates have remarkably high levels of CD34+ cells in their peripheral blood at birth. Umbilical cord blood from this population may potentially provide an abundant source of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells for therapeutic purposes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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