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Cell Transplant. 2001 Jan-Feb;10(1):67-80.

Engraftment and albumin production of intrasplenically transplanted rat hepatocytes (Sprague-Dawley), freshly isolated versus cryopreserved, into Nagase analbuminemic rats (NAR).

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Laboratoire de Chirurgie Expérimentale, Fondation Transplantation, Strasbourg, France.


Banking of cryopreserved hepatocytes is a prerequisite for large-scale hepatocyte transplantation in the clinic. We compared the efficacy of intrasplenic transplantation into Nagase analbuminemic rats (NAR) of freshly isolated (FIH) and cryopreserved (CH) hepatocytes. Hepatocytes were cryopreserved using a controlled rate freezing protocol. Albumin production of thawed CH and FIH was measured in vitro in culture by ELISA and by Western blot. After in vivo intrasplenic transplantation of NAR with either FIH or CH we assessed 1) albumin in the serum of recipients by ELISA and by Western blotting analysis at different time intervals, and 2) hepatocyte engraftment by albumin immunohistochemical staining into spleens and livers at euthanasia. In vitro, albumin was produced up to day 4 of culture in both CH and FIH. In vivo, no intrasplenic engraftment of hepatocytes occurred. Intrahepatic engraftment of CH (cell number/mm2) was significantly (twofold) lower than that of FIH and appeared only as isolated cells and small (<10 cells) clusters, while bigger clusters (>10 cells) were observed with FIH. In the FIH group, serum albumin production was observed up to 32-49 days posttransplantation while in the CH group no serum albumin production was detected. Our results emphasize the need to improve 1) hepatocyte transplantation procedures either by repeated hepatocytes injections and/or by transplantation under a regeneration response, and 2) the freeze/thaw protocols of hepatocytes.

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