Noninvasive white blood cell quantification in umbilical cord blood collection bags with quantitative oblique back-illumination microscopy.
BACKGROUND: Umbilical cord blood has become an important source of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells for therapeutic applications. However, cord blood banking (CBB) grapples with issues related to economic viability, partially due to high discard rates of cord blood units (CBUs) that lack sufficient total nucleated cells for storage or therapeutic use. Currently, there are no methods available to assess the likelihood of CBUs meeting storage criteria noninvasively at the collection site, which would improve CBB efficiency and economic viability. MATERIALS AND METHODS: To overcome this limitation, we apply a novel label-free optical imaging method, called quantitative oblique back-illumination microscopy (qOBM), which yields tomographic phase and absorption contrast to image blood inside collection bags. An automated segmentation algorithm was developed to count white blood cells and red blood cells (RBCs) and assess hematocrit. Fifteen CBUs were measured. RESULTS: qOBM clearly differentiates between RBCs and nucleated cells. The cell-counting analysis shows an average error of 13% compared to hematology analysis, with a near-perfect, one-to-one relationship (slope = 0.94) and strong correlation coefficient (r = 0.86). Preliminary results to assess hematocrit also show excellent agreement with expected values. Acquisition times to image a statistically significant number of cells per CBU were approximately 1 minute. CONCLUSION: qOBM exhibits robust performance for quantifying blood inside collection bags. Because the approach is automated and fast, it can potentially quantify CBUs within minutes of collection, without breaching the CBUs' sterile environment. qOBM can reduce costs in CBB by avoiding processing expenses of CBUs that ultimately do not meet storage criteria.
Casteleiro Costa, P; Ledwig, P; Bergquist, A; Kurtzberg, J; Robles, FE
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