Background: Autologous, and in some cases allogeneic, hemopoietic stem cells (HSC) are stored for varying periods of time prior to infusion. For periods of greater than 48 h, storage requires cryopreservation. It is essential to optimize cell storage and ensure the quality of the product for subsequent reinfusion.
Methods: A number of important variables may affect the subsequent quality of infused HSC and therapeutic cells (TC). This review discusses these and also reviews the regulatory framework that now aims to ensure the quality of stem cells and TC for transplantation.
Results: Important variables included cell concentration, temperature, interval from collection to cryopreservation, manipulations performed. They also included rate of freezing and whether controlled-rate freezing was employed. Parameters studied were type of cryoprotectant utilized [dimethyl sulphoxide (DMSO) is most commonly used, sometimes in combination with hydroxyethyl starch (HES)]; and storage conditions. It is also important to assess the quality of stored stem cells. Measurements employed included the total cell count (TNC), mononuclear cell count (MNC), CD34+ cells and colony-forming units - granulocyte macrophage (CFU-GM). Of these, TNC and CD34+ are the most useful. However, the best measure of the quality of stored stem cells is their subsequent engraftment. The quality systems used in stem cell laboratories are described in the guidance of the Joint Accreditation Committee of ISCT (Europe) and the EBMT (JACIE) and the EU Directive on Tissues and Cells plus its supporting commission directives. Inspections of facilities are carried out by the appropriate national agencies and JACIE.
Conclusion: For high-quality storage of HSC and TC, processing facilities should use validated procedures that take into account critical variables. The quality of all products must be assessed before and after storage.
Keywords: Accreditation; cryopreservation; hemopoietic stem cells; regulatory authorities.