Suitability of small diagnostic peripheral-blood samples for cell-therapy studies

Coralea Stephanou, Panayiota Papasavva, Myria Zachariou, Petros Patsali, Marilena Epitropou, Petros Ladas, Ruba Al-Abdulla, Soteroulla Christou, Michael N. Antoniou, Carsten W. Lederer, Marina Kleanthous

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


AbstractBackground aims Primary hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs) are key components of cell-based therapies for blood disorders and are thus the authentic substrate for related research. We propose that ubiquitous small-volume diagnostic samples represent a readily available and as yet untapped resource of primary patient-derived cells for cell- and gene-therapy studies. Methods In the present study we compare isolation and storage methods for HSPCs from normal and thalassemic small-volume blood samples, considering genotype, density-gradient versus lysis-based cell isolation and cryostorage media with different serum contents. Downstream analyses include viability, recovery, differentiation in semi-solid media and performance in liquid cultures and viral transductions. Results We demonstrate that HSPCs isolated either by ammonium-chloride potassium (ACK)-based lysis or by gradient isolation are suitable for functional analyses in clonogenic assays, high-level HSPC expansion and efficient lentiviral transduction. For cryostorage of cells, gradient isolation is superior to ACK lysis, and cryostorage in freezing media containing 50% fetal bovine serum demonstrated good results across all tested criteria. For assays on freshly isolated cells, ACK lysis performed similar to, and for thalassemic samples better than, gradient isolation, at a fraction of the cost and hands-on time. All isolation and storage methods show considerable variation within sample groups, but this is particularly acute for density gradient isolation of thalassemic samples. Discussion This study demonstrates the suitability of small-volume blood samples for storage and preclinical studies, opening up the research field of HSPC and gene therapy to any blood diagnostic laboratory with corresponding bioethics approval for experimental use of surplus material.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-326
Number of pages16
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2017


  • β-thalassemia
  • colony-forming cell assay
  • cryopreservation
  • density-gradient separation
  • erythrocyte lysis by ACK buffer
  • hematopoietic stem and progenitor cell
  • in vitro expansion
  • lentiviral transduction


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