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Int J Cell Cloning. 1990 Jan;8 Suppl 1:76-89; discussion 89-91.

Human umbilical cord blood: a clinically useful source of transplantable hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells.

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  • 1Department of Medicine (Hematology/Oncology), Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis 46202-5121.


This is a review and discussion of studies leading to the first use of human umbilical cord blood, material usually discarded, for the provision of stem/progenitor cells for clinical hematopoietic reconstitution. This prospect arose as a result of extensive studies of the harvesting and cryopreservation of cord blood and of its numerical content of progenitor cells demonstrable in vitro. A male patient with Fanconi anemia (FA) was conditioned with a modified regimen of cyclophosphamide and irradiation that accommodates the abnormally high sensitivity to these agents that is characteristic of FA. Cryopreserved cord blood had been retrieved at birth from a female sibling known from prenatal testing to be unaffected by FA and to be human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-compatible with the prospective sibling recipient. After conditioning and therapeutic infusion of thawed cord blood, successful hematopoietic reconstitution was indicated by the general health of the patient, who had previously required supportive transfusions, by satisfactory hematological criteria and by counts of hematopoietic progenitor cells of various types in the bone marrow. Complete engraftment of the myeloid system with donor cells was evident from cytogenetics, ABO typing, study of DNA polymorphisms, and normal cellular resistance to cytotoxic agents that reveal the fragility of FA cells; the blood contained a residuum of host lymphocytes exhibiting chromosomal damage, but the trend has been towards eliminating these damaged cells. This implies that cord blood from a single individual should provide sufficient reconstituting cells for effective hematopoietic repopulation of an autologous or an HLA-compatible allogeneic recipient.

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