Viable CD34+ stem cell content of a cord blood graft: which measurement performed before transplantation is most representative?


  • From the Blood Bank of East-Flanders, Flemish Blood Service, Ottergemsesteenweg 413, B-9000 Gent, Belgium; and the Department of Clinical Chemistry, Immunology and Microbiology, University of Gent, University Hospital, De Pintelaan 185, B-9000 Gent, Belgium.

  • This work was supported in part by the “Vlaamse Liga tegen Kanker,”“Kinder Kanker Fonds,” and “Zonta Gent 3.”

Inge Van haute, BTC Oost-Vlaanderen, Ottergemsesteenweg 413, B9000 Gent, Belgium; e-mail:


BACKGROUND: Patient survival in allogeneic cord blood transplantation is critically dependent on total nucleated cell (TNC) count or total CD34+ cell count per kg of body weight. Theoretically, viable CD34+ cell measurement at the time of infusion should give a better indication of the suitability of a certain transplant. The relation between measurements on different samples and viable CD34+ cell count on the graft itself was analyzed.

STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: Viable CD34+ cells were measured with a no-wash, single-platform technique with 7-aminoactinomycin D. Analysis was performed before freezing on the cord blood, after freezing and thawing on the cord blood unit itself, and on various samples.

RESULTS: Cord blood volume correlated poorly with viable CD34+ cell content (r = 0.24) as did initial TNC count and WBC count (r = 0.57 and r = 0.48, respectively). In contrast, viable CD34 cell content determined before freezing correlated well with viable CD34 cell content of the graft (r = 0.91) but was on average 25 percent higher than after freezing and thawing. The best correlations with the CD34+ cell content of the cord blood unit were obtained with CD34 cell measurements on a separate cryovial (r = 0.95). These CD34 cell measurements on frozen samples were found to be very reproducible (r = 0.96).

CONCLUSION: Viable CD34 cell count of the graft is both accurate and precise when measured on a separate sample frozen together with the cord blood unit. This measurement can be performed by the transplant center to exclude between-laboratory variability.