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Changes in L-selectin expression on CD34-positive cells upon cryopreservation of peripheral blood stem cell transplants


Several studies have pointed out that L-selectin on CD34-positive cells plays a role in haematopoietic reconstitution after peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) transplantation. Since it is known that a decrease in L-selectin expression in lymphocytes and granulocytes can be induced by a variety of stress situations, we have investigated in this study whether the freeze–thawing procedure, used in PBSC transplantation, would affect L-selectin expression on CD34+ stem cells. Flow cytometry was performed by labelling the cells with anti-CD34 (HPCA2 PE) and anti-CD62L (FMC46 FITC). The leucapheresis procedure itself caused a slight decrease of L-selectin expression on CD34 cells in 11 out of 12 cases (mean decrease of the percentage of positive cells 11.9; range 6–23). A much larger decrease was found upon freeze–thawing: a mean of 39% (range 4–78% in 27 cases) compared to fresh material. To determine if L-selectin expression might be up-regulated after cryopreservation, thawed transplant samples (n = 11) were incubated at 37°C in RPMI with 10% FCS at 5% CO2. Already early in the course of incubation two CD34-positive populations appeared in the blast region, characterized by either a low or high forward scatter. Simultaneous viability staining with the DNA dye 7-Amino Actinomycin D and the DNA/RNA dye Syto16 revealed that the population with low forward scatter was apoptotic while the population with the high forward scatter was non-apoptotic. The latter population is considered to be most relevant for transplantation. In this population an increase of L-selectin expression after overnight incubation was observed in 8/11 samples up to values of 46–120% of the values of the fresh non-frozen samples. In addition, the mean fluorescence intensity was significantly increased in 10/11 cases. Kinetic experiments with shorter incubation times revealed that only part of the leucapheresis samples (two out of 8) showed an increase of L-selectin expression within 4 h. In addition, a decrease of L-selectin expression was found upon CD34 purification from fresh leucapheresis material by magnetic isolation (decrease ranging from 59 to 92%, n = 5). In contrast to frozen samples, L-selectin reappearance was seen already within 4 h of incubation in all samples. Both the loss of L-selectin expression on CD34 cells occurring upon freeze–thawing, the emergence of apoptosis, as well as the recovery of L-selectin expression on non-apoptotic cells varies largely between individual leucapheresis samples, and therefore it is concluded that such processes should be considered when correlations with clinical outcome after transplantation are made.

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De Boer, F., Dräger, A., Van der Wall, E. et al. Changes in L-selectin expression on CD34-positive cells upon cryopreservation of peripheral blood stem cell transplants. Bone Marrow Transplant 22, 1103–1110 (1998).

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