CD34<sup>+</sup> cell content of 126 341 cord blood units in the US inventory: implications for transplantation and banking.


CD34+ cell dose is critical for cord blood (CB) engraftment. However, the CD34+ content of the CB inventory in the United States is unknown. We examined the CD34+ cell content of 126 341 red blood cell-depleted US units banked from January 2007 to September 2017 with a total nucleated cell (TNC) count of ≥90 × 107 and a cryovolume of 24-55 mL. Median pre-cryopreservation TNC content was 127 × 107 (interquartile range [IQR], 108-156 × 107); CD34+ cell content was 44 × 105 (IQR, 29 to 67 × 105). The median CD34+:TNC ratio was 0.34%. TNC and CD34+ cell content correlation was weak (r = 0.24). Of 7125 units with TNCs of ≥210 × 107, only 47% had CD34+ content of ≥100 × 105 However, some units had high CD34+ content for a given TNC count. Only 4% of CB units were acceptable as single-unit grafts (TNCs, ≥2.5 × 107/kg; CD34+ cells, ≥1.5 × 105/kg) for 70-kg patients; 22% of units were adequate for 70-kg patients using lower dose criteria (TNCs, ≥1.5 × 107/kg; CD34+ cells, ≥1.0 × 105/kg) suitable for a double-unit graft. These findings highlight that units with the highest TNC dose may not have the highest CD34+ dose, units with unexpectedly high CD34+ content (a ratio of >1.0%) should be verified, and the US CB inventory of adequately sized single units for larger patients is small. They also support the ongoing use of double-unit grafts, a focus on banking high-dose units, and development of expansion technologies.





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Publication Info

Barker, Juliet N, Jane Kempenich, Joanne Kurtzberg, Claudio G Brunstein, Colleen Delaney, Filippo Milano, Ioannis Politikos, Elizabeth J Shpall, et al. (2019). CD34+ cell content of 126 341 cord blood units in the US inventory: implications for transplantation and banking. Blood advances, 3(8). pp. 1267–1271. 10.1182/bloodadvances.2018029157 Retrieved from

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Joanne Kurtzberg

Jerome S. Harris Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics

Dr. Kurtzberg is an internationally renowned expert in pediatric hematology/oncology, pediatric blood and marrow transplantation, umbilical cord blood banking and transplantation, and novel applications of cord blood and birthing tissues in the emerging fields of cellular therapies and regenerative medicine.   Dr. Kurtzberg serves as the Director of the Marcus Center for Cellular Cures (MC3), Director of the Pediatric Transplant and Cellular Therapy Program, Director of the Carolinas Cord Blood Bank, and Co-Director of the Stem Cell Transplant Laboratory at Duke University.  The Carolinas Cord Blood Bank is an FDA licensed public cord blood bank distributing unrelated cord blood units for donors for hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) through the CW Bill Young Cell Transplantation Program.  The Robertson GMP Cell Manufacturing Laboratory supports manufacturing of RETHYMIC (BLA, Enzyvant, 2021), allogeneic cord tissue derived and bone marrow derived mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs), and DUOC, a microglial/macrophage cell derived from cord blood.

Dr. Kurtzberg’s research in MC3 focuses on translational studies from bench to bedside, seeking to develop transformative clinical therapies using cells, tissues, molecules, genes, and biomaterials to treat diseases and injuries that currently lack effective treatments. Recent areas of investigation in MC3 include clinical trials investigating the safety and efficacy of autologous and allogeneic cord blood in children with neonatal brain injury – hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), cerebral palsy (CP), and autism. Clinical trials testing allogeneic cord blood are also being conducted in adults with acute ischemic stroke. Clinical trials optimizing manufacturing and testing the safety and efficacy of cord tissue MSCs in children with autism, CP and HIE and adults with COVID-lung disease are underway. DUOC, given intrathecally, is under study in children with leukodystrophies and adults with primary progressive multiple sclerosis.

In the past, Dr. Kurtzberg has developed novel chemotherapeutic drugs for acute leukemias, assays enumerating ALDH bright cells to predict cord blood unit potency, methods of cord blood expansion, potency assays for targeted cell and tissue based therapies. Dr. Kurtzberg currently holds several INDs for investigational clinical trials from the FDA.  She has also trained numerous medical students, residents, clinical and post-doctoral fellows over the course of her career.

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