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J Orthop Res. 2002 Nov;20(6):1253-5.

Cryopreservation of intact human articular cartilage.

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  • 12D2.28 WCMC, Department of Surgery, University of Alberta Hospital, 8440-112 Street, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6G 2B7.


Damaged articular cartilage (AC) impairs joint function and many treatment techniques are being investigated to determine their long term results. Successful cryopreservation of AC can provide a reliable source of intact matrix with viable chondrocytes to maintain the cartilage over long periods of time. This study investigated the application of an established cryopreservation protocol to determine the recovery of intact chondrocytes from human AC. Ten millimeter diameter osteochondral dowels were harvested from two human donors. The cryopreservation protocol was performed and the samples were rapidly warmed from varying experimental holding temperatures (-10, -20, -30, -40 degrees C), with and without plunging into liquid nitrogen, using 1 M dimethyl sulfoxide as cryoprotectant. The cartilage was stained with membrane integrity dyes and viewed under fluorescence microscopy. The percent of intact chondrocytes was compared to fresh controls. Low recovery of intact chondrocytes was recorded from all temperature levels with and without cryoprotectant. The results of this experiment demonstrated that the cryopreservation procedure used to achieve moderate success with intact sheep AC was not successful with intact human AC and further investigation is required.

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