Risks of Stem Cell Transplantation

There are certain risks associated with stem cell transplantation and those can be divided into two categories:

First Category:

The source of stem cells obtained for stem cell transplantation. The amount of risk associated with stem cell transplantation depends on the type of stem cells, their potentialities, source they were obtained from, and the type of manipulations they were subjected to prior to the procedure. The safest type of stem cells is Autologous stem cells, those which are obtained from the same patient, due to their ability to surpass any immune attack against them since they are not recognized by the immune system as foreign cells. However, the disadvantage of using autologous stem cells is the fact that their ability to differentiate is associated with the age of the patient. This may be a problem for older patients since their stem cells’ regeneration power is not as strong as that for a younger patient or an infant. It is always preferred to use an Autologous source of stem cells whenever possible. However, there are certain cases in which these cells cannot be used such as in the cases with patients with genetic diseases, diseases that may affect the stem cell population such as in Leukemia, and in cases where the patient’s health condition does not permit any invasive procedures for SC collection.
Cord blood stem cells are considered to be the second safest option due to their low immunogenicity and hence would not be attacked by the immune system and rejected by the body. Stem cell transplantation using allogenic sources of adult stem cells can put the patient under great risk due to the possibility of an immune attack and eventually rejection.

Second Category:

Depending on the type of surgery applied for stem cell transplantation, there are some surgical risks associated with it. These risks are not pertinent to the utilization of stem cells per se but to the procedure itself.