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Pflugers Arch. 2001;442(6 Suppl 1):R171-3.

Determination of optimal transport conditions for biopsies of human articular cartilage as well as for suspensions of cultured chondrocytes used in autologous transplantation.

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Educell doo, Cell Therapy Service, Ljubljana, Slovenia.


Autologous transplantation of chondrocytes is currently being promoted as a novel approach for the treatment of deep cartilage lesions. Briefly, the method involves enzyme-mediated release of chondrocytes from cartilage biopsies, the expansion of cells by in vitro cultivation and their re-implantation into the defect. The success of this technique depends on many factors including transport conditions for both, cartilage biopsies from the operating hall to the laboratory and the return transport of final suspension of cultured chondrocytes. To determine the extent of cellular damage in biopsies, chondrocytes were enzymatically isolated following a few days of tissue preservation in different tissue culture media. The proportion of dead cells was assessed by Trypan blue staining and counting. The viability was not dependant of the type of the medium used and remained approximately 50% in all samples, even after 72 h. To develop optimal conditions for transport of final chondrocyte suspension, isolated cells were firstly grown in monolayer cultures. Cell suspensions in media with different additives were injected into special glass containers used for the transport and left at 4 degrees C or 25 degrees C for up to 3 days. During this period every 24 h the samples were taken and viability as well as apoptosis levels were assessed. Viability of cells in suspensions at 25 degrees C decreased significantly and became inadequate already after 48 h. In contrast to that, the proportion of viable cells at 4 degrees C remained above 80% even after 48 h. In the majority of the samples, culture medium containing serum and vitamin C provided the best conditions for long-term preservation of chondrocytes.

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