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Transfusion. 2019 Feb;59(2):681-685. doi: 10.1111/trf.15080. Epub 2018 Dec 7.

Nucleated red blood cells as a novel indicator of CD34+ cell content in umbilical cord blood.

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Cell Therapy Laboratory, San Diego Blood Bank, San Diego, California.



Umbilical cord blood (UCB) has become an important source of transplantable CD34+ hematopoietic progenitor cells. Cord blood banks (CBBs) can increase their efficiency by minimizing the processing of UCB units with low CD34+ content, which have a lower likelihood of transplant utilization. We sought to identify a readily available preprocessing metric that would correlate with CD34+ cell counts, without the cost of additional analysis.


Data were compiled for 131 UCB units processed at the regional CBB. Preprocessing hematologic metrics, including complete blood count and differential, were compared to postprocessing CD34+ cell quantities. The data were divided into six groups of varying preprocessing metrics, then compared for significant differences in postprocessing CD34+ cell quantities to develop a screening guidance.


UCB units with nucleated RBC (nRBC) content of 15% or greater were found to have a significant increase in CD34+ cell percentage (p < 0.00001) and total CD34+ cell content (p < 0.0001). Units with preprocessing total nucleated cell count (TNC) of ≥ 1.50 × 109 with nRBC content of 15% or greater, and for TNC ≥ of 2.00 × 109 with nRBC content less than15%, had a significant increase in CD34+ content (p < 0.05 and p < 0.001, respectively). Applied as a screening guideline, these units had an increase in mean CD34+ content from 6.24 × 106 to 9.27 × 106 . Units originally in the bottom and top quartiles of CD34+ content constitute 5% and 53% of processed units meeting these TNC/nRBC criteria, respectively.


These screening criteria utilizing nRBC provides a guideline that public CBBs may use to increase their efficiency by minimizing the processing of UCB units with lower CD34+ cell content.


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