Peripheral blood is a major stem cell source for hematopoietic stem cell transplantation in many parts of the world – even though bone marrow is preferred – likely due to costs, the need for patient hospitalization, and a lack of trained physicians and necessary equipment for performing bone marrow transplant, Dr. Ayami Yoshimi, and colleagues reported for the Worldwide Network of Blood and Marrow Transplantation.

Peripheral blood stem cells are readily available at transplant centers, as they are collected routinely for other indications, and they offer short-term cost savings due to rapid engraftment, the network reported in a research letter (JAMA. 2016;315[2]:198-200. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.13706).

In patients with nonmalignant disorders, use of peripheral blood stem cells in HSCT has a higher rate of graft-vs.-host disease and lower survival rates.

In the network’s retrospective survey, which they estimate covered 90% of transplants performed in 2009 and 2010, 114,217 HSCTs were reported by 1,482 transplant teams and 3,282 allogeneic HSCTs were performed for bone marrow failure. Use of peripheral blood stem cells in HSCT varied from 80% in countries with low and middle incomes to 50% in those with high-middle incomes to 36% in those with high incomes (P less than .001). For the 3,282 allogeneic HSCTs performed for bone marrow failure worldwide, stem cell sources included bone marrow (1,766, 54%), peripheral blood stem cells (1,336, 41%), and cord blood (180, 5%).

Use of unrelated donors was highest in Europe (515/1107; 47%); use of matched sibling donors was highest in the Eastern Mediterranean region and Africa (249/274; 91%).

Bone marrow was used most commonly in the Americas (631/843; 75%) and in Europe (632/1057; 60%), but not in the Eastern Mediterranean region and Africa (123/266; 46%) and in the Asia Pacific region (380/936; 41%; excluding Japan, 19%).

“National and international transplant organizations and authorities should foster regional accredited bone marrow harvest centers for patients with nonmalignant disorders and provide resources to establish such infrastructures. Unrelated donor registries should provide information on the necessity of bone marrow donation for patients with bone marrow failure,” wrote Dr. Yoshimi of the University of Freiburg, Germany, and colleagues.

Funding for the study was indirectly provided by the Worldwide Network of Blood and Marrow Transplantation. Dr. Yoshimi reported having no disclosures.