We frequently get requests for blood cell donors who have a certain disease:
Can I get a donor with rheumatoid arthritis?
Do you have donors with lung cancer?
Can I get PBMC from a pregnant donor?
Do you have cells from a donor with vitiligo?
You get the idea. These requests come in on a weekly basis and range from the simple (RA PBMC) to the complex (pregnant donor carrying a baby with trisomy 13).
When it comes to our donors, we have two types: normal, healthy donors and disease-state donors. Here we will explain the difference and provide some examples of each.
Note that the explanations below help to describe the cell types and donor profiles we typically keep in stock. If we don’t have a specific combination available, we are happy to fulfill custom requests when possible.
Normal Donors: Who Are They?
We use an IRB-approved protocol for the collection of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) for research use. This protocol is specified for normal, healthy donors only. For this reason, we don’t carry cells from pregnant donors or donors with cancer. So who is considered a normal, healthy donor?
Normal, healthy donors are those who are not currently under a physician’s care for a chronic disease, which means no medications or treatment of any kind for a chronic illness.
But even this definition can be flexible at times. Let’s explore some examples.
You could say that donors taking prescribed antidepressants such as Prozac or Paxil are under treatment for a chronic illness — depression. Because antidepressants are so widely prescribed, we include donors taking these medications in our pool.
Many donors in their 40s, 50s and beyond are taking medications for hypertension or acid reflux (usually hydrochlorothiazide or omeprazole). These types of conditions and medications are common among individuals in those age groups, so these donors may be considered normal.
The United States’ obesity problem has been well documented, and unsurprisingly, the issue has impacted our donor population. The effect of metabolic disorders on the immune system is an active area of study. It’s possible for donors with high BMI to have some degree of immune dysfunction, so these donors are of particular interest. When it comes to obesity, we accept donors whose BMI are reflective of the overall population here in the Pacific Northwest.
Otherwise Healthy Donors
Some donors whose conditions are well under control may think they should be classified as healthy or normal. However, there are some restrictions. For example, we cannot accept donors with Type II Diabetes or those with arrhythmias because of possible conflicts with medications or complications during the leukapheresis procedure. Even some healthy young women are not enrolled as donors if their hematocrit test results (percentage of red blood cells) are lower than the collection protocol requires.
In addition to our normal, healthy donors, we also carry cells from donors who have various diseases. We believe that these variations should be recognized in research studies as much as possible.
While it’s natural for scientists to seek blood samples from healthy, young, male donors taking no medications — thinking that samples from these normal donors will not be impacted by any other factors — research using normal donors doesn’t always paint an accurate picture of the human immune system as it exists and functions “in the wild.”
If you’re interested in disease-state donors, we have a variety from which to choose:
- Allergy & Asthma PBMC
- Autoimmune Disease PBMC
- Ankylosing Spondylitis
- Celiac Disease
- Crohn’s Disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Raynaud’s Syndrome
- Sjögren’s Syndrome
- Rheumatoid Arthritis PBMC
- SLE PBMC and T Cells