BACKGROUND AIMS - Previous studies have shown that rapid recovery of the absolute lymphocyte count (ALC) is associated with improved transplant outcomes after related and unrelated donor allogeneic stem cell transplantation (allo-SCT). No consistent association has been reported between lymphocyte recovery and transplant outcome after cord blood transplantation (CBT).
METHODS - We reviewed the records of 40 consecutive CBT patients at our institution to determine the impact of lymphocyte recovery on transplant outcome.
RESULTS - The majority of patients (83%) received CBT for hematologic malignancies. Patients with ALC ≥150/μL at 30 days post-CBT had decreased non-relapse mortality (NRM) (P = 0.011) and improved survival (P = 0.013) compared with ALC <150/μL. Patients with ALC <100/μL at 30 days post-CBT had a significantly higher rate of graft failure than those with ALC ≥100/μL (four of 10 versus one of 29; P = 0.011). ALC was positively correlated with the nucleated cell dose and inversely correlated with the patient's age. There was no relationship between disease risk, type of conditioning regimen, anti-thymocyte globulin and number of cord units on ALC recovery.
CONCLUSIONS - Our results indicate that ALC 30 days post-CBT is a surrogate for engraftment, and that low ALC (<150/μL) identifies an 'at-risk' population of patients after CBT. Studies are needed to determine ways to increase ALC cell numbers post-CBT, including ex vivo-expanded natural killer cells using adoptive immunotherapy, which might improve outcome after CBT.