Density Separation and Cryopreservation of Umbilical Cord Blood Cells: Evaluation of Recovery in Short- and Long-Term Cultures

Camillo Almici, Carmelo Carlo-Stella, John E. Wagner, Vittorio Rizzoli

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14 Scopus citations


The clonogenic capacity of human umbilical cord blood (UCB) has been evaluated in several studies, which have shown high numbers of primitive hematopoietic progenitor cells. Recently, UCB progenitor cells were demonstrated to possess significant advantages over bone marrow (BM) in terms of proliferative capacity and immunologic reactivity. Therefore, UCB has been considered an attractive source of hematopoietic stem cells for both research and clinical applications. Previous reports have documented a significant loss of progenitor cells by any manipulation other than cryopreservation. We have evaluated the feasibility of fractionating and cryopreserving UCB samples with minimal loss of progenitor cells. We compared separation over three different densities of Percoll (1.069, 1.077 and 1.084 g/ml), sedimentation over poligeline (Emagel), and sedimentation over poligeline followed by separation over Ficoll/Hypaque (F/H). Separated samples (n = 25) were analyzed for recovery of CD34+ cells and progenitor cells (CFU-GEMM, BFU-E, CFU-GM). Separation by sedimentation over poligeline followed by F/H allowed the highest depletion of RBCs (hematocrit of the final cellular suspension 0.4 ± 0.1%), while maintaining a high recovery of CD34+ cells (85.3%) and total recovery of CFU-GEMM, BFU-E and CFU-GM. After cryopreservation, recovery of clonogenic progenitors was 82% for CFU-GEMM, 94% for BFU-E, 82% for CFU-GM and 90% for colony-forming units after 5 weeks of long-term culture. Moreover, the presence of Stem cell factor significantly increased CFU-GEMM (14 ± 4 vs. 49 ± 5, p < 0.0005) and CFU-GM (112 ± 18 vs. 178 ± 19, p ≤ 0.025), but not BFU-E (42 ± 7 vs. 53 ± 7, p < 0.375) growth. In conclusion, RBC depletion of UCB can be accomplished with minimal loss of committed and primitive hematopoietic progenitors. This procedure may have important implications in the large-scale banking of UCB and in ex vivo expansion/gene therapy protocols.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)171-175
Number of pages5
JournalActa Haematologica
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1996


  • CD34
  • Cord blood
  • Cryopreservation
  • Density separation
  • Hemopoietic progenitors
  • Long-term culture
  • Stem cell factor


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