Umbilical cord blood banks use two methods to store frozen umbilical cord blood (UCB): red cell reduction (RCR) or plasma depletion (PD). The RCR method centrifuges cord blood in hetastarch or albumin to isolate 21 ml of cord blood containing mostly white blood cells, adds 4 ml of 50%
dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), and then freezes the resulting 25 ml of cell suspension. The PD method removes plasma, saves all the cells, and freezes the cells in 10% DMSO. PD UCB units are cheaper to process but more expensive to store and somewhat more troublesome to thaw. However, when properly
thawed and washed, PD UCB units have as many or more total nucleated cells (TNCs), CD34+ cells, and colony-forming units (CFU) than RCR units. Two studies suggest that PD units have 20‐25% more TNCs, MNCs, and CD34+ cells, as well as two to three times more CFU
than RCR units. Higher TNC, CD34+, and CFU counts predict engraftment rate with faster neutrophil and platelet recovery. PD units have high engraftment rates with low mortality and high disease-free survival, comparable with clinical results of treatments with RCR units. One recent
series of studies suggests that PD units are more effective for treating thalassemia with 2-year survival rates of 88%, disease-free survival rates of 74%, and 100% cure rate for children under age 7, compared to only 61% overall survival and 23% disease-free survival rate in thalassemic children
treated with RCR units. These findings suggest that PD units not only have more TNCs, CD34+ cells, and CFU than RCR units but also have high engraftment rates and may be more effective for treating certain conditions such as β-thalassemia.
Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience, Rutgers, State University of New Jersey, Piscataway, NJ, USA
Publication date: April 9, 2014
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