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Generation of clinical-grade red blood cells from human umbilical cord blood mononuclear cells

Rallapalli, Suneel, Guhathakurta, Soma, Narayan, Shalini, Bishi, Dillip Kumar, Balasubramanian, Venkatesh, Korrapati, Purna Sai
Cell and tissue research 2019 v.375 no.2 pp. 437-449
culture media, drugs, erythrocytes, erythropoietin, ex vivo studies, humans, oxygen, umbilical cord
A xeno-free method for ex vivo generation of red blood cells (RBCs) is attempted in order to replicate for large-scale production and clinical applications. An efficient milieu was formulated using injectable drugs substituting the animal-derived components in the culture medium. Unfractionated mononuclear cells isolated from human umbilical cord blood were used hypothesizing that the heterogeneous cell population could effectively contribute to erythroid cell generation. The strategy adopted includes a combination of erythropoietin and other injectable drugs under low oxygen levels, which resulted in an increase in the number of mature RBCs produced in vitro. The novelty in this study is the addition of supplements to the medium in a stage-specific manner for the differentiation of unfractionated umbilical cord blood mononuclear cells (MNCs) into erythropoietic lineage. The erythropoietic lineage was well established by day 21, wherein the mean cell count of RBCs was found to be 21.36 ± 0.9 × 10⁸ and further confirmed by an upregulated expression of CD235a⁺ specific to RBCs. The rationale was to have a simple method to produce erythroid cells from umbilical cord blood isolates in vitro by mitigating the effects of multiple erythroid-activating agents and batch to batch variability.