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Haematologica. 2011 Aug;96(8):1213-20. doi: 10.3324/haematol.2010.038836. Epub 2011 May 5.

An overview of the progress on double umbilical cord blood transplantation.

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Stem-Health Hellas, Hygeia Hospital, 4 Er. Stavrou & Kifisias Avenue, Athens, Greece.


Umbilical cord blood transplantation has been increasingly used over the past years for both malignant and non-malignant hematologic and other diseases as an alternative to mismatched-related or matched-unrelated bone marrow or peripheral blood hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. A disadvantage of cord blood is its low cell content which limits cord blood transplantation to generally low weight recipients, such as children. Various alternatives have been used to overcome this limitation, including co-infusion of two partially HLA-matched cord blood units. According to Eurocord Registry data, this strategy has been applied in approximately 993 adult patients with hematologic diseases since the first double umbilical cord blood transplantation in 1999. In fact, since 2005, the number of adult patients receiving double umbilical cord blood transplantation has surpassed the number of adults transplanted with single cord blood units. The engraftment rate is comparable for both single and double umbilical cord blood transplantation, although the latter is accompanied by a higher incidence of grade II acute graft-versus-host disease and lower leukemia relapse for patients in first complete remission. In the majority of patients undergoing double umbilical cord blood transplantation, transient chimerism, due to the presence of cells from both donor units early post transplant, is replaced by sustained dominance of one unit from which long-term hematopoiesis is derived. Although the biology and the factors that determine unit dominance have not been clarified, the implication of immune-mediated mechanisms has been reported. Preliminary data have demonstrated the safety of double umbilical cord blood transplantation. Ongoing clinical trials and prolonged follow up of the patients will clarify the immunology and determine the efficacy of this approach. We present here a brief overview of the clinical experience on double umbilical cord blood transplantation and its underlying biology.

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