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Life Sci. 2006 Feb 28;78(14):1570-7. Epub 2005 Oct 19.

Role of apoptotic signaling pathway in metabolic disturbances occurring in liver tissue after cryopreservation: Study on rat precision-cut liver slices.

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Unit of Pharmacokinetics, Metabolism, Nutrition and Toxicology, Université Catholique de Louvain, 7369, Avenue E. Mounier 73, B-1200 Brussels, Belgium.


Precision-cut liver slices in culture (PCLS) appears as a useful and widely used model for metabolic studies; the interest to develop an adequate cryopreservation procedure, which would allow maintaining cell integrity upon incubation, is needed to extend its use for human tissues. We have previously shown that cryopreservation of rat PCLS leads to caspase-3 activation and early alterations of their K+ content upon incubation. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that counteracting intracellular K+ loss and/or interfering with cell death signaling pathways could improve the viability of cryopreserved PCLS. PCLS were prepared from male Wistar rat liver and cryopreserved by rapid freezing before incubation. The addition of a caspase inhibitor-Z-DEVD-FMK (2.5 microM)-in the culture medium did not improve viability of cryopreserved PCLS. Incubation of cryopreserved PCLS in a K+ rich medium (135 mM) increased K+ content and avoided caspase-3 activation, but did not improve cell viability. Caspase-3 inhibition, a decrease in cell lysis, and improvement of glycogen content were observed in cryopreserved PCLS after addition of LiCl (100 mM) in the incubation medium. These results indicate that, even if caspase-3 activation is linked to the K+ loss in cryopreserved PCLS, its inhibition does not allow restoring the metabolic capacities. LiCl, acting on a target upstream of caspase-3 inhibition, improves cell viability and allows glycogen accumulation when added in culture medium of cryopreserved PCLS; and could thus be considered as an interesting adjuvant in the culture of cryopreserved PCLS.

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