Stem cell research & therapy

Reflection and observation: cell-based screening failing to detect HBV in HUMSCs derived from HBV-infected mothers underscores the importance of more stringent donor eligibility to reduce risk of transmission of infectious diseases for stem cell-based medical products.

PMID 29973264


In cell-based therapy, the transmission of communicable diseases imposes a substantial threat to recipients. In this study, we investigated whether cell-based screening could detect hepatitis B virus (HBV) in human umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stem cells (HUMSCs) isolated from HBV-infected donors to understand the susceptibility of HUMSCs to HBV infection. HBV assay was performed in HUMSCs derived from healthy and HBV-infected donors with enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), fluorescence quantitative PCR (FQ-PCR) assay, and droplet digital PCR (ddPCR) assay. Further, HBV DNA was assayed in HUMSCs derived from healthy donors after incubation with human sera containing a high titer of HBV using FQ-PCR. HBV antigen/antibody and DNA failed to be detected using ELISA, FQ-PCR, and ddPCR. After incubation with HBV infection sera, HBV DNA could be detected, but below the valid titer of the assay kit. The HBV DNA levels in HBV-incubated HUMSCs gradually decreased with medium change every 2 days and then significantly decreased, not even detected after passage. The current cell-based screening methods could not detect HBV in HUMSCs derived from HBV-infected donors, indicating the importance of more stringent donor eligibility to reduce the risk of transmission of communicable diseases in cell-based therapy. To solve the problem of an occult HBV window period in donor eligibility determination, we recommend that the donors undergo another HBV serological test 3 months after the first serological communicable disease screening.

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