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Development of a Cryopreservation Procedure Employing a Freezer Bag for Pancreatic Islets Using a Newly Developed Cryoprotectant

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One of the most important requirements for success in clinical islet transplantation is the use of a large number of viable donor islets. To achieve this, the ability to cryopreserve islets and to establish an islet bank are critical. Previously, we developed a two-step cryopreservation procedure with freezing tubes utilizing low and high concentrations of dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) and using a fully automated cryomachine for human pancreatic islets and porcine islet-like cell clusters (ICCs). Based on these experiments, we developed a simple and efficient cryopreservation procedure of a freezer bag for isolated islets using a fully automated computer-controlled cryomachine with a newly developed cryoprotectant consisting of ethylene glycol (EG) instead of DMSO for decreasing injury of the islets by freezing. A 250 ml Cryocyte blood freezer bag and our newly developed cryoprotectant containing ethylene glycol (EG) were used in the freezing procedure. The islets were frozen by a fully automated computer-controlled cryomachine (GE 9,000) with our original program of slow cooling. Nucleation occurred at -8°C, and the frozen islets were stored at -196°C in a liquid nitrogen tank. The frozen-stored islets were subsequently rapidly thawed in a 37°C water bath and cultured before viability testing. In vitro function, the stimulation index of insulin release during the static incubation test for rat islets cryopreserved in a freezer bag vs. nonfrozen islets as control, was 2.13 ± 0.42 and 2.02 ± 0.38 (94.8% compared with control), respectively (n = 5, p = NS). The islet recovery compared with the nonfrozen control group was 85% (n = 5) in insulin content. When 1000 rat islets cryopreserved in a freezer bag were transplanted into the renal capsule of diabetic athymic mice, all the mice became normoglycemic within 7 days from transplantation. Before nephrectomy, the intravenous glucose torelance test (IVGTT) was performed. The fractional decay constant of the glucose level (K value) of the frozen-thawed group was 0.42 ± 0.06%/min. A histological study of renal subcapsular grafts demonstrated the morphological integrity of the islets. These results demonstrate the utility of our cryopreservation procedure of a freezer bag for isolated islets using a fully automated computer-controlled cryomachine with a newly developed cryoprotectant for the maintenance of viability and function of frozen-stored islets both in culture and after transplantation. Cryopreservation using freezer bags with the new cryoprotectant is an effective and simple method for making an islet bank for clinical trials of islet transplantation.

Keywords: Islet transplantation; Key words: Cryopreservation

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: *Department of Organ Reconstruction, Institute for Frontier Medical Sciences, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan 2: †Gas Application Department of Technical Developent, Taiyo Toyo Sanso Co., Ltd. Osaka, Japan 3: ‡Osaka Research Laboratory, Nihon Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. Osaka, Japan 4: §Department of Radiation Genetics, Faculty of Medicine, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan

Publication date: April 1, 2001

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  • Cell Transplantation publishes original, peer-reviewed research and review articles on the subject of cell transplantation and its application to human diseases. To ensure high-quality contributions from all areas of transplantation, separate section editors and editorial boards have been established. Articles deal with a wide range of topics including physiological, medical, preclinical, tissue engineering, and device-oriented aspects of transplantation of nervous system, endocrine, growth factor-secreting, bone marrow, epithelial, endothelial, and genetically engineered cells, among others. Basic clinical studies and immunological research papers are also featured. To provide complete coverage of this revolutionary field, Cell Transplantation will report on relevant technological advances, and ethical and regulatory considerations of cell transplants. Cell Transplantation is now an Open Access journal starting with volume 18 in 2009, and therefore there will be an inexpensive publication charge, which is dependent on the number of pages, in addition to the charge for color figures. This will allow work to be disseminated to a wider audience and also entitle the corresponding author to a free PDF, as well as prepublication of an unedited version of the manuscript.

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