Umbilical cord blood: an evolving stem cell source for sickle cell disease transplants

Stem Cells Transl Med. 2013 May;2(5):337-40. doi: 10.5966/sctm.2012-0180. Epub 2013 Apr 11.


Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation has proven benefit in controlling sickle cell disease-related vasculopathy and organ damage. Myeloablative matched sibling donor cord transplants have excellent outcomes in sickle cell disease. Unrelated donor transplant options are often deferred because of a lack of suitable human leukocyte antigen-matched donors, a problem especially relevant to minority populations. Umbilical cord blood transplantation allows for more mismatching from the graft-versus-host disease perspective and the donor pool is expandable with effort and education. Drawbacks such as increased rates of graft rejection, a fixed cell dose, delayed immune reconstitution, and transplant-related mortality have deterred unrelated cord transplant efforts. However, the transplant community continues to make enormous strides in this transplant realm in areas of immunogenetics, stem cell expansion, conditioning regimens, and supportive care. This has allowed the development of new studies that are currently ongoing, exploring ways to make cord blood transplantation successful and safer. The goal is to make unrelated donor cord blood transplantation for sickle cell disease merit early consideration in patients who stand to benefit from this approach.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / therapy*
  • Animals
  • Cord Blood Stem Cell Transplantation*
  • Fetal Blood / cytology*
  • Humans
  • Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Tissue Donors