Background: Umbilical cord blood (CB) is a promising source of hematopoietic stem cells for allogeneic transplantation. However, delayed engraftment and impaired immune reconstitution remain major limitations. Enrichment of donor grafts with CB T cells expanded ex vivo might facilitate improved T-cell immune reconstitution post-transplant. We hypothesized that CB T cells could be expanded using paramagnetic microbeads covalently linked to anti-CD3 and anti-CD28 Ab.
Methods: CB units were divided into three fractions: (1) cells cultured without beads, (2) cells cultured with beads and (3) cells cultured with beads following CD3+ magnetic enrichment. All fractions were cultured for 14 days in the presence of IL-2 (200 IU/mL).
Results: A mean 100-fold expansion (range 49-154) of total nucleated cells was observed in the CD3+ magnetically enriched fraction. Following expansion, CB T cells retained a naive and/or central memory phenotype and contained a polyclonal TCR diversity demonstrated by spectratyping.
Discussion: Our data provide evidence that naive and diverse CB T cells may be expanded ex vivo and warrant additional studies in the setting of human CB transplantation.