Study of early hematopoietic precursors in human cord blood

Exp Hematol. 1992 Oct;20(9):1043-7.


Human cord blood is a source of transplantable stem cells. These stem cells express the antigen CD34, are resistant to treatment with 4-hydroperoxycyclophosphamide (CD34+/4-HCres), and do not give rise to colonies when plated in clonogenic assays. We studied the number of CD34+ cells present in cord blood and developed a two-step assay for early precursors (pre-colony-forming units, pre-CFU) capable of giving rise to committed progenitors. In this assay CD34+/4-HCres cord blood cells were cultured in suspension with different growth factors. After 7 days in suspension the remaining cells were plated in clonogenic assays, for granulocyte-macrophage colony-forming units (CFU-GM), erythroid burst-forming units (BFU-E), and mixed lineage colony-forming units (CFU-MIX), in the presence of pure factors or a combination of recombinant human (rh) interleukin 3 (IL-3) and medium conditioned by the PU34 primate cell line. Pre-CFU for all precursors were identified. These pre-CFU developed into committed progenitors in response to rhIL-3. The combinations of rhIL-3 plus rh interleukin 1 (IL-1) or rhIL-3 plus rh interleukin 6 (IL-6) did not enhance recovery of progenitors. The developing CFU-GM were responsive to rh granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) and rh granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) but much less so to rhIL-3. BFU-E and CFU-MIX developed in suspension but could only be detected when cells were replated in the presence of a combination of rhIL-3 and PU34 but not rhIL-3 alone. This assay may be useful in evaluating the number of early hematopoietic precursors present in cord blood samples and in defining growth factor combinations that could enhance hematopoietic recovery after cord blood stem cell transplants.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, CD / analysis
  • Antigens, CD34
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Erythropoiesis / drug effects
  • Female
  • Fetal Blood / cytology*
  • Fetal Blood / immunology
  • Fetal Blood / metabolism
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Granulocyte Colony-Stimulating Factor / metabolism
  • Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor / metabolism
  • Hematopoiesis / drug effects
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-3 / pharmacology
  • Interleukin-6 / pharmacology
  • Pregnancy
  • Recombinant Proteins / pharmacology


  • Antigens, CD
  • Antigens, CD34
  • Interleukin-3
  • Interleukin-6
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Granulocyte Colony-Stimulating Factor
  • Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor