Cytomegalovirus-Specific Immunity Recovers More Slowly after Cord Blood Transplantation Compared with Matched Sibling Donor Allogeneic Transplantation

Nelli Bejanyan, Irina Vlasova-St Louis, Hesham Mohei, Qing Cao, Najla El Jurdi, John E. Wagner, Jeffrey S. Miller, Claudio G. Brunstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Rapid quantitative recovery of NK cells but slower recovery of T-cell subsets along with frequent viral infections are reported after umbilical cord blood (UCB) compared with matched sibling donor (MSD) hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT). However, it remains unclear whether increased propensity for viral infections is also a result of slower recovery of virus-specific immunity after UCB as compared to MSD HCT.

OBJECTIVES: We examined the differences in the function of virus-specific peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) after UCB (N=17) vs. MSD (N=9) using previously collected patient blood samples at various time points after HCT.

METHODS: Interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) enzyme-linked immune absorbent spot (ELISpot) assay was used to quantify the PBMC frequencies that secrete IFN-γ in response to 11 immunopeptides from 5 common viruses. We included the patients who received the same reduced intensity conditioning regimen without ATG, no systemic glucocorticoids and had no relapse or acute/chronic graft-versus-host disease within 1 year after HCT.

RESULTS: The CMV-reactive PBMC frequencies were higher in CMV seropositive vs. seronegative patients after HCT. Among CMV seropositive patients, the frequency of CMV-reactive PBMC was lower after UCB compared to MSD throughout one year of HCT. We observed no differences in virus-specific PBMC responses towards HHV6, EBV, BK, and adenovirus antigens between UCB and MSD.

CONCLUSION: Our data demonstrate that the reconstitution of CMV-specific immunity is slower in CMV seropositive recipients of UCB vs. MSD HCT in contrast to other viruses which had similar recoveries. These study findings support implementation of more potent prophylactic strategies for preventing CMV reactivation in CMV seropositive patients receiving UCB HCT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)187.e1-187.e4
JournalTransplantation and Cellular Therapy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The American Society for Transplantation and Cellular Therapy


  • Hematopoietic cell transplantation
  • IFN-γ ELISpot
  • Immune reconstitution
  • Matched sibling donor
  • Umbilical cord blood


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