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Clin Vaccine Immunol. 2013 Apr;20(4):590-5. doi: 10.1128/CVI.00693-12. Epub 2013 Feb 13.

Value of a quality assessment program in optimizing cryopreservation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells in a multicenter study.

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David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA.


Cryopreservation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) allows assays of cellular function and phenotype to be performed in batches at a later time on PBMC at a central laboratory to minimize assay variability. The Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS) is an ongoing prospective study of the natural and treated history of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection that stores cryopreserved PBMC from participants two times a year at four study sites. In order to ensure consistent recovery of viable PBMC after cryopreservation, a quality assessment program was implemented and conducted in the MACS over a 6-year period. Every 4 months, recently cryopreserved PBMC from HIV-1-infected and HIV-1-uninfected participants at each MACS site were thawed and evaluated. The median recoveries of viable PBMC for HIV-1-infected and -uninfected participants were 80% and 83%, respectively. Thawed PBMC from both HIV-1-infected and -uninfected participants mounted a strong proliferative response to phytohemagglutinin, with median stimulation indices of 84 and 120, respectively. Expression of the lymphocyte surface markers CD3, CD4, and CD8 by thawed PBMC was virtually identical to what was observed on cells measured in real time using whole blood from the same participants. Furthermore, despite overall excellent performance of the four participating laboratories, problems were identified that intermittently compromised the quality of cryopreserved PBMC, which could be corrected and monitored for improvement over time. Ongoing quality assessment helps laboratories improve protocols and performance on a real-time basis to ensure optimal cryopreservation of PBMC for future studies.

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