A simplified method for cryopreservation at -80°C of peripheral blood stem cells (PBSC) has been increasingly used for autologous PBSC transplantation in Japan. Although this method, using 6% hydroxyethyl starch (HES) and 5% dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) as a cryoprotectant without rate-controlled freezing, has several advantages over the conventional method using 10% DMSO with rate-controlled freezing, little is known about effects of long-term cryopreservation for years and thawing process on hematopoietic progenitors. We examined the recovery rates of BFU-E and CFU-GM in sample tubes cryopreserved by the simplified method under various conditions as follows: (1) long-term storage for 1-5 years; (2) DMSO exposure for 1 h after rapid thawing; and (3) thawing at a lower temperature other than 37°C. In our study, we found that the recovery rates of BFU-E and CFU-GM were not affected by the length of cryopreservation period; they remained at more the 70% on average for 16-61 months. In our hands, a 1-h exposure to DMSO after rapid thawing was not toxic for hematopoietic progenitors. Furthermore, there was no significant difference in the recovery rates of BFU-E and CFU-GM between thawing at 37°C and 20°C. These observations indicate that PBSC cryopreserved for at least 5 years by the simplified method can be used clinical without losing hematopoietic activity, and suggest that hematopoietic activity of the thawed PBSC may be unaffected when PBSC are infused slowly within 60 min or even when PBSC are thawed gradually at room temperature.
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