Granulocyte-colony stimulating factor for hematopoietic stem cell donation from healthy female donors during pregnancy and lactation: What do we know?

Ilias Pessach, Avichai Shimoni, Arnon Nagler*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Hematopoietic growth factors (HGFs) are mostly used as supportive measures to reduce infectious complications associated with neutropenia. Over the past decade, the use of HGFs became a common method for mobilizing human CD34+ stem cells, either for autologous or allogeneic transplantation. However, since their introduction the long-term safety of the procedure has become a major focus of discussion and research. Most information refers to healthy normal donors and data concerning pregnant and lactating women are scarce. The clinical question, which is the core of this review, is whether stem cell donation, preceded by administration of granulocytecolony stimulating factor (G-CSF) for mobilization, is a safe procedure for pregnant donors. Methods: Literature searches were performed in Pubmed for English language articles published before the end of May 2012, focusing on G-CSF administration during pregnancy, lactation and hematopoietic stem cell donation. Searches included animal and human studies. Results: Data from animals (n = 15 studies) and women (n = 46 studies) indicate that G-CSF crosses the placenta, stimulates fetal granulopoiesis, improves neonatal survival mostly for very immature infants, promotes trophoblast growth and placental metabolism and has an anti-abortive role. Granulocyte macrophage-CSF is a key cytokine in the maternal immune tolerance towards the implanted embryo and exerts protective long-term programming effects to preimplantation embryos. The available data suggest that probably CSFs should notbe administered during the time of most active organogenesis (first trimester), except perhaps for the first week during which implantation takes place. Provided CSF is administered during the second and third trimesters, it appears to be safe, and pregnant women receiving the CSF treatment can become hematopoietic stem cell donors. There are also risks related to the anesthesia, which is required for the bone marrow aspiration. During lactation, there should be a period of at least 3 days to allow for clearance of CSF from milk before resuming breast feeding. With regard to teratogenicity or leukaemogenity, in non-pregnant or non-lactating women reports show that CSF administration is associated with a risk for leukemia; however, this risk is not higher compared with the control population. Conclusions: The information available to date indicates that administration of CSF in general, and G-CSF in particular, is safe and healthy pregnant women can serve as donors of either bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cells. However, the clinical experience is rather limited and therefore until more data become available, G-CSF should not be used during pregnancy and lactation when other therapeutic options, instead of stem cell transplantation, are available.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberdms053
Pages (from-to)259-267
Number of pages9
JournalHuman Reproduction Update
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Granulocyte-colony stimulating factor
  • Lactation
  • Pregnancy
  • Stem cell transplantation


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