Evaluation of post-thaw CFU-GM: clinical utility and role in quality assessment of umbilical cord blood in patients receiving single unit transplant

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BACKGROUND: The CFU assay is considered the only in vitro assay that assesses the biologic function of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPC). STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: To investigate the impact of post-thaw CFU-GM counts on the quality of umbilical cord blood (UCB), we studied transplant outcomes in 269 patients receiving single UCB transplant. We also correlated the post-thaw CFU-GM counts of 1912 units with the pre-freeze and post-thaw graft characteristics, hoping to optimize selection criteria of UCB. Data analysis included: total nucleated cells, viability, CD34+, nucleated red blood cells (NRBC), hematocrit, frozen storage time, and cord blood bank (CBB). RESULTS: We demonstrated an association between post-thaw CFU-GM dose and the speed of neutrophil and platelet engraftment (p < 0.01). Higher post-thaw CFU-GM dose showed an increased benefit for neutrophil and platelet engraftment (p < 0.01). Post-thaw CD34+ cell dose and CFU-GM dose were strongly correlated (r = 0.78). However, CFU-GM dose showed additional benefit for patients receiving the lowest quartile of CD34+ dose. HLA disparity did not adversely impact either neutrophil or platelet engraftment. Post-thaw CFU-GM/million nucleated cells plated showed moderate correlation with pre-freeze and post-thaw CD34+ and weak correlation with other parameters. Post-thaw CFU-GM was not influenced by storage time, but was impacted by the CBB from which the unit is obtained (p < 0.01). CONCLUSION: Post-thaw CFU-GM is an effective measure of the quality and efficacy of the UCB graft, particularly adding valuable clinical information when the CD34+ cell dose is low. Consideration of pre-freeze CD34+ cell content and CBB as additional selection criteria is warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)144-154
Number of pages11
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


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  • Journal Article

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