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J Vasc Surg. 1990 Aug;12(2):180-9.

In situ cannulation, microgrid follow-up and low-density plating provide first passage endothelial cell masscultures for in vitro lining.

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Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Groote Schuur Hospital, University of Cape Town, South Africa.


A rapid and reliable harvest and culture technique was developed to provide a sufficient number of autologous endothelial cells for the confluent in vitro lining of cardiovascular prostheses. Enzymatic endothelial cell detachment was achieved by the in situ application of collagenase to short vessel segments. This harvest technique resulted in a complete lack of contaminating smooth muscle cells in all of 124 cultures from nonhuman primates and 13 cultures from human adults. The use of a microgrid technique enabled the daily in situ quantification of available endothelial cells. To assess ideal plating densities after passage the population doubling time was continuously related to the cell density. Surprisingly, a low plating density of 1.5 X 10(3) endothelial cells/cm2 achieved 43% shorter cell cycles than the usual plating density of 1.0 X 10(4) endothelial cells/cm2. Moreover, low density plating enabled mass cultures after one single cell passage, thereby reducing the cell damaging effect of trypsin. When the growth characteristics of endothelial cells from five anatomically different vessel sites were compared, the external jugular vein--which would be easily accessible and dispensable in each patient--proved to be an excellent source for endothelial cell cultures. By applying in situ administration of collagenase, low density plating and microgrid follow-up to adult human saphenous vein endothelial cells, 14,000,000 first passage endothelial cells--sufficient for the in vitro lining of long vascular prostheses--were obtained 26.2 days after harvest. (95% confidence interval:22.3 to 32.2 days).

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