In order to better define which cell subset contained in graft products might be the most predictive of haemopoietic recovery following autologous blood cell transplantation (ABCT), the relationships between the amounts of reinfused mononuclear cells (MNC), CFU-GM, total CD34+ cells and their CD33 and CD38 subsets, and the successive stages of trilineage engraftment kinetics, were studied in 45 cancer patients, using the Spearman correlation test, a linear regression model and a log-inverse model. No relationship was found between the infused numbers of MNC, CD33+ and CD33- subsets observed and the numbers of days to reach predetermined absolute neutrophil (ANC), platelet and reticulocyte counts. The infused numbers of CFU-GM, CD34+ and CD34+ 38+ cells correlated inconstantly with haemopoietic recovery parameters. The strongest and the most constant correlations were significantly observed between the infused numbers of CD34+ 38- cells and each trilineage engraftment parameter. The log-inverse model determined a threshold dose of 0.05 x 106 (= 5 x 104) CD34+ 38- cells/kg, below which the trilineage engraftment kinetics were significantly slower and unpredictable. Post-transplant TBI-conditioning regimens increased the low cell dose-related delay of engraftment kinetics whereas post-transplant administration of haemopoietic growth factors (HGF) seemed to abrogate this delay. This would justify clinical use of HGF only in patients transplanted with CD34+ 38 (-) cell amounts lower than the proposed threshold value.
This study suggests that the CD34+ 38 sup -subpopulation, although essentially participating in late complete haemopoietic recovery, is also composed of committed progenitor cells involved in early trilineage engraftment.