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Cell Transplant. 1995 Sep-Oct;4(5):455-77.

Infectious disease transmission through cell, tissue, and organ transplantation: reducing the risk through donor selection.

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American Red Cross, North Central Tissue Services, St. Paul, MN 55107, USA.


The incidence of cell transplant-transmitted infection is unknown and can only be inferred from prospective studies--that have not yet been performed and reported. The possibility of donor-to-recipient disease transmission through cell transplant therapy can be considered by reviewing the risk associated with other transplanted tissues and organs. Viral, bacterial, and fungal infections have been transmitted via transplantation of organs, tissue allografts such as bone, skin, cornea, and heart valves, and cell such as islets, hematopoietic stem cells, and semen. Several types of protozoan and worm parasites have been transferred via organ transplants. Bone allografts have transmitted hepatitis, tuberculosis, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1). Corneas have transmitted rabies, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), hepatitis B (HBV), cytomegalovirus (CMV), herpes simplex virus (HSV), bacteria, and fungi. Heart valves have been implicated in transmitting tuberculosis and hepatitis B. HIV-1 and CMV seroconversion has been reported in patients receiving skin from seropositive donors. CJD has been transmitted by dura and pericardium transplants. Over the past several years, improvements in donor screening criteria, such as excluding potential donors with infection and those with behaviors risky for HIV-1 and hepatitis infection, and introduction of new donor blood tests have greatly reduced the risk of HIV-1 and hepatitis and may have nearly eliminated the risk of tuberculosis and CJD. Prior to use, many tissues are exposed to antibiotics, disinfectants, and sterilants, which further reduce or remove the risk of transmitted disease. Because organs, cells, and some tissue grafts cannot be subjected to sterilization steps, the risk of infectious disease transmission remains and thorough donor screening and testing is especially important.

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