Processing and cryopreservation of placental/umbilical cord blood for unrelated bone marrow reconstitution

Pablo Rubinstein, Ludy Dobrila, Richard E. Rosenfield, John W. Adamson, Giovanni Migliaccio, Anna Rita Migliaccio, Patricia E. Taylor, Cladd E. Stevens

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Clinical evidence of hematopoietic restoration with placental/umbilical cord blood (PCB) grafts indicates that PCB can be a useful source of hematopoietic stem cells for routine bone marrow reconstitution. In the unrelated setting, human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-matched donors must be obtained for candidate patients and, hence, large panels of frozen HLA-typed PCB units must be established. The large volume of unprocessed units, consisting mostly of red blood cells, plasma, and cryopreservation medium, poses a serious difficulty in this effort because storage space in liquid nitrogen is limited and costly. We report here that almost all the hematopoietic colony-forming cells present in PCB units can be recovered in a uniform volume of 20 ml by using rouleaux formation induced by hydroxyethyl starch and centrifugation to reduce the bulk of erythrocytes and plasma and, thus, concentrate leukocytes. This method multiplies the number of units that can be stored in the same freezer space as much as 10-fold depending on the format of the storage system. We have also investigated the proportion of functional stem/progenitor cells initially present that are actually available to the recipient when thawed cryopreserved PCB units are infused. Progenitor cell viability is measurably decreased when thawed cells, still suspended in hypertonic cryopreservative solutions, are rapidly mixed with large volumes of isotonic solutions or plasma. The osmotic damage inflicted by the severe solute concentration gradient, however, can be averted by a simple 2-fold dilution after thawing, providing almost total recovery of viable hematopoietic progenitor cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10119-10122
Number of pages4
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number22
StatePublished - 24 Oct 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • blood banking
  • hematopoiesis
  • histocompatibility
  • stem cells
  • transplantation


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