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Background

Cultured red blood cells (cRBCs) from cord blood (CB) have been proposed as transfusion products. Whether buffy coats discarded from blood donations (adult blood [AB]) may be used to generate cRBCs for transfusion has not been investigated.

Study Design and Methods

Erythroid progenitor cell content and numbers and blood group antigen profiles of erythroblasts (ERYs) and cRBCs generated in human erythroid massive amplification (HEMA) culture by CB (n = 7) and AB (n = 33, three females, three males, one AB with rare blood antigens cryopreserved using CB protocols) were compared.

Results

Variability was observed both in progenitor cell content (twofold) and number of ERYs generated (1 log) by CB and AB in HEMA. The average progenitor cell contents of the subset of AB and CB analyzed were similar. AB generated numbers of ERYs three times lower (p < 0.01) than CB in HEMA containing fetal bovine serum but similar to CB in HEMA containing human proteins. Female AB contained two times fewer (p < 0.05) erythroid progenitor cells but generated numbers of ERYs similar to those generated by male AB. Cryopreserved AB with a rare blood group phenotype and shipped to another laboratory generated great numbers of ERYs, 90% of which matured into cRBCs. Blood group antigen expression was consistent with the donor genotype for ERYs generated both by CB and AB but concordant with that of native RBCs only for cells derived from AB.

Conclusion

Buffy coats from regular donors, including a donor with rare phenotypes stored under conditions established for CB, are not inferior to CB for the generation of cRBCs.