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Long-Term Function of Cryopreserved Rat Hepatocytes in a Coculture System

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The goal of this study was to investigate postpreservation long-term function of cryopreserved primary rat hepatocytes using the hepatocyte/3T3-J2 fibroblast coculture system. The long-term function of thawed hepatocytes cocultured with fibroblasts was evaluated and compared with hepatocytes cultured without fibroblasts. Fresh isolated primary rat hepatocytes were frozen at a controlled rate (−1°C/min) up to −80°C, and then stored in liquid nitrogen for up to 90 days. Thawed hepatocytes were thereafter cocultured with 3T3-J2 murine fibroblasts and cocultivation was monitored for 14 days. The viability of fresh isolated hepatocytes was 91.4%, and that of cryopreserved hepatocytes was 82.1%. Cellular morphology and polarity, which were determined by the localization of actin filaments and connexin-32, were successfully maintained in cryopreserved hepatocytes following cryopreservation. Albumin and urea synthesis reached the maximum level and became stable after day 7 in coculture in both fresh and cryopreserved hepatocytes. Urea synthesis of cryopreserved hepatocytes was maintained 89.0% of nonfrozen fresh control, and albumin production of cryopreserved hepatocytes was 63.7% of control in coculture. Cytochrome P450 activity, which was measured by deethylation of ethoxyresorufin, was also maintained in cryopreserved hepatocytes at 88.6% of nonfrozen fresh control in coculture. The retention of synthetic and detoxification activities was verified to be well preserved during extended low-temperature storage (90 days). Both fresh control and cryopreserved hepatocytes cultured without fibroblast did not retain their synthetic and detoxification functions in long-term culture. These data illustrate that, through the utilization of our cryopreservation procedure, primary hepatocyte function was successfully maintained when placed into coculture configuration following thawing.
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Keywords: Albumin; Coculture; Connexin-32; Cryopreservation; Cytochrome P450; HypoThermosol; Primary hepatocyte

Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations: Center for Engineering in Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and Shriners Hospital for Children, Boston, MA 02114

Publication date: 2004-01-01

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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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