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Med Eng Phys. 2003 Sep;25(7):573-9.

Measurement of the chondrocyte membrane permeability to Me2SO, glycerol and 1,2-propanediol.

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Department of Engineering Science, Oxford University, Parks Road, OX1 3PJ, Oxford, UK.


The addition of cryopreservative agents (CPAs) to chondrocytes and natural and engineered cartilage is critical to protect the cells and tissues from freezing damage during cryopreservation, but this may cause cell damage, e.g. by osmotic shock. The damage could be minimized by the control of the cell volume excursion with the knowledge of cell membrane permeability. In this study, the cell volume responses of chondrocytes to three commonly used CPAs were evaluated using a perfusion microscope stage. The osmotic response of chondrocytes was measured to the perfusion with 1.4 M dimethyl sulfoxide (Me2SO), 1,2-propanediol and glycerol at 21 degrees C. Cell volumes and their transients were determined with image analysis. The cell membrane permeability parameters, including the hydraulic conductivity (Lp), the CPA permeability (omega) and the reflection coefficients (sigma) in the Kedem-Katchalsky (K-K) model, and the Lp and omega in the two-parameter model were determined. The correlated K-K parameters at 21 degrees C were Lp=0.166 +/- 0.035, 0.149 +/- 0.061, 0.212 +/- 0.041 microm/min atm, omega=(7.630 +/- 0.174) x 10(-2), (1.428 +/- 0.627) x 10(-2), (2.744 +/- 0.775) x 10(-2) microm/s and sigma=0.91 +/- 0.09, 0.82 +/- 0.11, 0.88 +/- 0.10 for Me(2)SO, glycerol and 1,2-propanediol, respectively. For the two-parameter model, the parameter values were Lp=0.163 +/- 0.040, 0.128 +/- 0.031, 0.169 +/- 0.025 microm/min atm, omega=(7.881 +/- 0.178) x 10(-2), (1.529 +/- 0.525) x 10(-2), (3.716 +/- 0.493) x 10(-2) microm/s for Me2SO, glycerol and 1,2-propanediol, respectively. No significant difference in the predictions of cell volume excursion during CPA addition was observed when using either the K-K model or the two-parameter model and it was hence advised to adopt the simple two-parameter model in the evaluation. The measured parameters can be used to optimise the CPA addition and removal protocols to maximize the cell survival during cryopreservation.

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