Evaluation of Initial Telomere Length and Changes after Transplantation in Adult Double-Unit Cord Blood Transplant Recipients

Biol Blood Marrow Transplant. 2015 Jul;21(7):1334-6. doi: 10.1016/j.bbmt.2015.04.006. Epub 2015 Apr 10.


Cord blood (CB) leukocytes have inherent telomere length (TL) variation, and CB hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) can maintain high telomerase levels preventing telomere attrition in vitro. We evaluated TL changes in 13 adult double-unit CB transplant (CBT) recipients. In the 26 units, we observed a marked variation in CB TL at thaw (median, 9.99 kilobases [kb]; range, 6.85 to 13.5). All 13 patients engrafted. Of 11 engrafting with 1 unit, there was no correlation between unit dominance and TL (mean dominant unit TL, 8.84 kb ± 1.76; mean nonengrafting unit TL, 10.3 kb ± 1.81; P = .77). Serial measurements of TL up to 1 year after CBT demonstrated an overall mean 3.04 kb ± .16 TL decrease with only 1 patient exhibiting telomere maintenance. In summary, initial TL does not predict CB unit dominance. Moreover, our analysis suggests neonatal hematopoiesis makes a transition to an HSC characterized by changes in average TL and potentially low telomerase asymmetric cell division in adult CBT recipients. Further investigation of alterations in telomere length and its clinical implications after transplantation of this observation are indicated.

Keywords: Allogeneic transplantation; Cord blood; Telomere length.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cord Blood Stem Cell Transplantation / methods*
  • Female
  • Graft Survival
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / immunology
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / chemistry
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / metabolism
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myeloablative Agonists / therapeutic use*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Telomere / chemistry*
  • Telomere Homeostasis*
  • Transplant Recipients
  • Transplantation Conditioning*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Unrelated Donors


  • Myeloablative Agonists