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Bone Marrow Transplant. 1997 Jul;20(1):57-61.

Imprecision of counting CFU-GM colonies and CD34-expressing cells.

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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Abteilung Hämatologie/Onkologie, Berlin, Germany.


Determinations of committed haemopoietic progenitor cells, namely CFU-GM (colony-forming unit-granulocyte/macrophage) and of CD34-expression haemopoietic cells as assessed by multiparameter flow cytometry are routine diagnostic tools in haemopoietic cell therapy. Generally, the tests are used to optimise the timing and management of cytapheresis and to assess the engraftment potential of the harvested cells. Both measurements, however, are at best surrogate markers, as an adequate routine test which effectively assesses the short- and long-term repopulating haemopoietic cell is not available. Nonetheless, cell threshold doses have been established. Above these thresholds rapid engraftment is almost invariable but below these thresholds the outcome is variable. In this study we have focussed on the imprecision in counting haemopoietic cells, as assessed as CFU-GM and as CD34-expressing cells. The data on both tests have been analysed from six European institutions. The coefficient of variation in CFU-GM colony counting was about 30%, whereas the coefficient of variation in flow cytometric counting of CD34-expressing cells was about 10%. These data suggest that the technical imprecision in enumerating progenitor cells, particularly CFU-GM, at low levels, might make a major contribution to the clinical variability observed after transplantation of sub-threshold progenitor cell dose.

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