What Are The Adverse Effects of Cord Blood?

The use of umbilical cord blood in treating different hematopoietic and non-hematopoietic disorders continues to increase with more new horizons coming in. The placental blood is genetically unique to the baby whose umbilical cord and placenta are used to extract the blood. The blood has highly primitive or young hematopoietic stem cells that have the ability to renew and get specialized when they are transferred to an individual. Cord blood is also potentially compatible in people with close relationship to the baby for example, the siblings of the baby. Also, it has been considered a frequent match for people considered non-related to the baby whom his or her cord blood is extracted and banked.2 Despite the promising use of placental blood stem cells in the treatment of different ailments and disorders, there are adverse effects too, though not to the scale of the hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT).

Graft verses Host Disease

Graft versus host disease (GvHD) may develop after a person has received cord blood stem cells transplantation. This disease mainly occurs in allogeneic transplant that involves a related or unrelated donor. If a mismatch of the donor blood occurs with that of the patient’s blood, complications like GvHD may occur. A mismatch in human leukocyte antigen (HLA) between the donor and recipient may make the donor cells to perceive the patient’s cells as foreign, and this could result in an immune response that acts against the patient’s tissues or organs. While this may occur in cord blood stem cell transplantations, its magnitude and severity isn’t comparable to that of traditional hematopoietic stem cell transplantations (HSCTs). It’s much less.3,4

Grafts Verses Host Disease

Severe infection

In cord blood stem cell transplant, bacterial infections can occur just as it happens with hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT). The infections involve bloodstream infections or BSIs, gastrointestinal infections, and pneumonia. A patient may suffer from Clostridium difficile infection, especially allogeneic stem cell transplants. In order to reduce the chances of having infections, proper collection and banking of cord blood is required. Also, proper care should be observed when performing the transplants. 5

Passing a Rare Genetic Disease

Although a rare occurrence, having cord blood transplantation may contribute to passing of a rare disease involving the immune system or the blood of the recipient or patient. Doctors usually ask families that donate cord blood regarding their family and ethnic history of having genetic diseases. While the blood may be tested for common genetic disorders for example, sickle cell anemia, not all conditions may be screened. Also doctors screen a child after birth and if there is any information showing presence of genetic disease, it is filed. A problem witnessed with cord blood collection is that some of the rare genetic diseases aren’t obvious at time of birth and only come to be detected after several months or years. Presently, it isn’t possible to have testing for all rare diseases thus there is a possibility that a transplant involving cord blood could transmit a rare, but serious genetic disease.6

The adverse effects of using stem cells derived from umbilical cord blood are similar to those witnessed in hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) however there are lower incidents occurring with cord blood than with the traditional HSCT that use bone marrow stem cells1.

Keywords: cord blood; stem cells; cord blood stem cell; banking of cord blood; donate cord blood; cord blood collection

Reference List

  1. Cord Blood. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cord_blood
  2. Cord Blood vs. Bone Marrow vs. Peripheral Blood, https://www.bioinformant.com/cord-blood-vs-bone-marrow-vs-peripheral-blood/
  3. Graft vs Host Disease: An Overview in Bone Marrow Transplant. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/10255-graft-vs-host-disease-an-overview-in-bone-marrow-transplant
  4. Graft-versus-host disease (GvHD). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graft-versus-host_disease
  5. Bacterial Infections in Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant Recipients. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4500472/
  6. Are there any unfavorable aspects of cord blood transplants from unrelated donors? http://www.nationalcordbloodprogram.org/qa/how_is_it_collected.html

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