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1.  Ocular Fluid As a Replacement for Serum in Cell Cryopreservation Media 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(7):e0131291.
Cryostorage is of immense interest in biomedical research, especially for stem cell-based therapies and fertility preservation. Several protocols have been developed for efficient cryopreservation of cells and tissues, and a combination of dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) and fetal bovine serum (FBS) is commonly used. However, there is a need for an alternative to FBS because of ethical reasons, high cost, and risk of contamination with blood-borne diseases. The objective of the present study was to examine the possibility of using buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) ocular fluid (BuOF) to replace FBS in cryomedia. Frozen–thawed cells, which were cryopreserved in a cryomedia with BuOF, were assessed for viability, early and late apoptosis, and proliferation. Three cell lines (CHO, HEK, and C18-4), mouse embryonic stem (mES) cells, and primary cells, such as mouse embryonic fibroblast (MEF) cells, human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (hPBMCs), and mouse bone marrow cells (mBMCs), were cryopreserved in cryomedia containing 10% DMSO (D10) with 20% FBS (D10S20) or D10 with 20% BuOF (D10O20). For all three cell lines and mES cells cryopreserved in either D10S20 or D10O20, thawed cells showed no difference in cell viability or cell recovery. Western blot analysis of frozen–thawed-cultured cells revealed that the expression of Annexin V and proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) proteins, and the ratio of BAX/BCL2 proteins were similar in all three cell lines, mES cells, and hPBMCs cryopreserved in D10S20 and D10O20. However, initial cell viability, cell recovery after culture, and PCNA expression were significantly lower in MEF cells, and the BAX/BCL2 protein ratio was elevated in mBMCs cryopreserved in D10O20. Biochemical and proteomic analysis of BuOF showed the presence of several components that may have roles in imparting the cryoprotective property of BuOF. These results encourage further research to develop an efficient serum-free cryomedia for several cell types using BuOF.
PMCID: PMC4489643  PMID: 26135924
2.  Optimizing parameters for clinical-scale production of high IL-12 secreting dendritic cells pulsed with oxidized whole tumor cell lysate 
Dendritic cells (DCs) are the most potent antigen-presenting cell population for activating tumor-specific T cells. Due to the wide range of methods for generating DCs, there is no common protocol or defined set of criteria to validate the immunogenicity and function of DC vaccines.
Monocyte-derived DCs were generated during 4 days of culture with recombinant granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factor and interleukin-4, and pulsed with tumor lysate produced by hypochlorous acid oxidation of tumor cells. Different culture parameters for clinical-scale DC preparation were investigated, including: 1) culture media; 2) culture surface; 3) duration of activating DCs with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and interferon (IFN)-gamma; 4) method of DC harvest; and 5) cryomedia and final DC product formulation.
DCs cultured in CellGenix DC media containing 2% human AB serum expressed higher levels of maturation markers following lysate-loading and maturation compared to culturing with serum-free CellGenix DC media or AIM-V media, or 2% AB serum supplemented AIM-V media. Nunclon™Δ surface, but not Corning® tissue-culture treated surface and Corning® ultra-low attachment surface, were suitable for generating an optimal DC phenotype. Recombinant trypsin resulted in reduced major histocompatibility complex (MHC) Class I and II expression on mature lysate-loaded DCs, however presentation of MHC Class I peptides by DCs was not impaired and cell viability was higher compared to cell scraping. Preservation of DCs with an infusible cryomedia containing Plasma-Lyte A, dextrose, sodium chloride injection, human serum albumin, and DMSO yielded higher cell viability compared to using human AB serum containing 10% DMSO. Finally, activating DCs for 16 hours with LPS and IFN-γ stimulated robust mixed leukocyte reactions (MLRs), and high IL-12p70 production in vitro that continued for 24 hours after the cryopreserved DCs were thawed and replated in fresh media.
This study examined criteria including DC phenotype, viability, IL-12p70 production and the ability to stimulate MLR as metrics of whole oxidized tumor lysate-pulsed DC immunogenicity and functionality. Development and optimization of this unique method is now being tested in a clinical trial of autologous oxidized tumor lysate-pulsed DC in clinical-scale in recurrent ovarian, primary peritoneal or fallopian tube cancer (NCT01132014).
PMCID: PMC3283529  PMID: 22082029
3.  Defining Blood Processing Parameters for Optimal Detection of Cryopreserved Antigen-Specific Responses for HIV Vaccine Trials 
Journal of immunological methods  2007;322(1-2):57-69.
Interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) ELISpot and intracellular cytokine staining (ICS) assays are routinely employed in clinical HIV vaccine trials to identify antigen-specific T cells in cryopreserved peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC). Several parameters involved in blood collection, processing and shipping may influence immunological function of the resulting cells, including anticoagulant type, time from venipuncture to PBMC isolation/cryopreservation, method of PBMC isolation and procedure for sample shipping. We examined these parameters in single and multiple site studies, and found the length of time from venipuncture to cryopreservation is the most important parameter affecting performance of T cells in immunological assays. Comparing blood processed at 24 hours after venipuncture with that processed within eight hours, we observed on average a modest reduction in PBMC viability (∼8% decrease), a greater loss in cell recovery (∼32%), and between 36-56% loss in IFN-γ T cell frequencies by ELISpot assay. We also describe three cold shipping methods that maintain immunological function in appropriately cryopreserved PBMC. These data indicate that cryopreservation of PBMC should occur within eight hours of venipuncture for optimal performance. This narrow window for specimen processing has important implications in selecting and monitoring clinical sites with laboratory capacity to perform these procedures in future clinical trials.
PMCID: PMC1904432  PMID: 17382342
4.  Cryopreservation of stromal vascular fraction of adipose tissue in a serum-free freezing medium 
Developing effective techniques for the cryopreservation of human adipose-derived adult stem cells could increase the usefulness of these cells in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. Unfortunately, the use of serum and a commonly used cryoprotectant chemical, dimethyl sulphoxide (DMSO), during cryopreservation storage restricts the direct translation of adult stem cells to in vivo applications. The objective of this study was to test the hypothesis that the stromal vascular fraction (SVF) of adipose tissue can be effectively cryopreserved and stored in liquid nitrogen, using a freezing medium containing high molecular weight polymers, such as methylcellulose (MC) and/or polyvinylpyrollidone (PVP), as the cryoprotective agent (CPA) instead of DMSO. To this end, we investigated the post-freeze/thaw viability and apoptotic behaviour of SVF of adipose tissue frozen in 16 different media: (a) the traditional medium containing Dulbecco’s modified Eagle’s medium (DMEM) with 80% fetal calf serum (FCS) and 10% DMSO; (b) DMEM with 80% human serum (HS) and 10% DMSO; (c) DMEM with 0%, 2%, 4%, 6%, 8% or 10% DMSO; (d) DMEM with 1% MC and 10% of either HS or FCS or DMSO; (e) DMEM with 10% PVP and varying concentrations of FCS (0%, 10%, 40% or 80%); (f) DMEM with 10% PVP and 10% HS. Approximately 1 ml (106 cells/ml) of SVF cells were frozen overnight in a −80 °C freezer and stored in liquid nitrogen for 2 weeks before being rapidly thawed in a 37 °C water bath (1–2 min agitation), resuspended in culture medium and seeded in separate wells of a six-well plate for a 24 h incubation period at 37 °C. After 24 h, the thawed samples were analysed by brightfield microscopy and flow cytometry. The results suggest that the absence of DMSO (and the presence of MC) significantly increases the fraction of apoptotic and/or necrotic SVF cells. However, the percentage of viable cells obtained with 10% PVP and DMEM was comparable with that obtained in freezing medium with DMSO and serum (HS or FCS), i.e. ~54 ± 14% and ~63 ± 10%, respectively. Adipogenic and osteogenic differentiation behaviour of the frozen thawed cells was also assessed, using histochemical staining. Our results suggest that post-thaw SVF cell viability and adipogenic and osteogenic differentiability can be maintained even when they are frozen in the absence of serum and DMSO but with 10% PVP in DMEM.
PMCID: PMC4381661  PMID: 19967746
cryopreservation; cryoprotective agents; human subcutaneous adipose tissue; stromal vascular fraction cells; adipogenesis; ostoegenesis; necrosis; apoptosis
5.  VACUTAINER® CPT™ and Ficoll density gradient separation perform equivalently in maintaining the quality and function of PBMC from HIV seropositive blood samples 
BMC Immunology  2006;7:11.
For immune monitoring studies during HIV vaccine clinical trials, whole blood specimens from HIV seropositive (HIV+) patients may be collected at multiple sites and sent to a central location for peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) isolation, cryopreservation and functional evaluation. In this study we show a comparison of two PBMC preparation options, Ficoll density gradient separation (Ficoll) and Cell Preparation Tubes (CPT) using shipped whole blood specimens from 19 HIV+ patients (CD4 > 350, viral load < 50). The pre- and post- cryopreservation performance of samples collected by these two methods were compared by assessment of antigen-specific IFNγ expression in CD8+ and CD8- T cells, cellular viability, and cellular recovery.
The results indicate that cryopreserved PBMC samples tested for CMV- and HIV- specific interferon-gamma (IFNγ) expression performed equivalent to the respective fresh PBMC processed under both collection conditions. Compared to fresh PBMC, the viability was significantly lower for cryopreserved PBMC derived using Ficoll, although it was never less than 90%. There were no significant differences in the IFNγ response, viability, or recovery between cryopreserved PBMC derived by Ficoll and by CPT.
These data suggest that CPT is an efficient system for the collection and cryopreservation of functionally active HIV+ PBMC, as well as a viable alternative to Ficoll gradient separation.
PMCID: PMC1481571  PMID: 16725038
6.  Concordant Proficiency in Measurement of T-Cell Immunity in Human Immunodeficiency Virus Vaccine Clinical Trials by Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cell and Enzyme-Linked Immunospot Assays in Laboratories from Three Continents ▿  
The gamma interferon (IFN-γ) enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISPOT) assay is used routinely to evaluate the potency of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) vaccine candidates and other vaccine candidates. In order to compare candidates and pool data from multiple trial laboratories, validated standardized methods must be applied across laboratories. Proficiency panels are a key part of a comprehensive quality assurance program to monitor inter- and intralaboratory performance, as well as assay performance, over time. Seven International AIDS Vaccine Initiative-sponsored trial sites participated in the proficiency panels described in this study. At each laboratory, two operators independently processed identical sample sets consisting of frozen peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) samples from different donors by using four blind stimuli. PBMC recovery and viability after overnight resting and the IFN-γ ELISPOT assay performance were assessed. All sites demonstrated good performance in PBMC thawing and resting, with a median recovery of 78% and median viability of 95%. The laboratories were able to detect similar antigen-specific T-cell responses, ranging from 50 to >3,000 spot-forming cells per million PBMC. An approximate range of a half log in results from operators within or across sites was seen in comparisons of antigen-specific responses. Consistently low background responses were seen in all laboratories. The results of these proficiency panels demonstrate the ability of seven laboratories, located across three continents, to process PBMC samples and to rank volunteers with differential magnitudes of IFN-γ ELISPOT responses. These findings also illustrate the ability to standardize the IFN-γ ELISPOT assay across multiple laboratories when common training methods, reagents such as fetal calf serum, and standard operating procedures are adopted. These results are encouraging for laboratories that are using cell-based immunology assays to test HIV vaccines and other vaccines.
PMCID: PMC2643552  PMID: 19091991
7.  Cryopreservation of dermal fibroblasts and keratinocytes in hydroxyethyl starch–based cryoprotectants 
BMC Biotechnology  2016;16:85.
Preservation of human skin fibroblasts and keratinocytes is essential for the creation of skin tissue banks. For successful cryopreservation of cells, selection of an appropriate cryoprotectant agent (CPA) is imperative. The aim of this study was to identify CPAs that minimize toxic effects and allow for the preservation of human fibroblasts and keratinocytes in suspension and in monolayers.
We cryopreserved human fibroblasts and keratinocytes with different CPAs and compared them to fresh, unfrozen cells. Cells were frozen in the presence and absence of hydroxyethyl starch (HES) or dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), the latter of which is a commonly used CPA known to exert toxic effects on cells. Cell numbers were counted immediately post-thaw as well as three days after thawing. Cellular structures were analyzed and counted by labeling nuclei, mitochondria, and actin filaments. We found that successful cryopreservation of suspended or adherent keratinocytes can be accomplished with a 10% HES or a 5% HES, 5% DMSO solution. Cell viability of fibroblasts cryopreserved in suspension was maintained with 10% HES or 5% HES, 5% DMSO solutions. Adherent, cryopreserved fibroblasts were successfully maintained with a 5% HES, 5% DMSO solution.
We conclude that skin tissue cells can be effectively cryopreserved by substituting all or a portion of DMSO with HES. Given that DMSO is the most commonly used CPA and is believed to be more toxic than HES, these findings are of clinical significance for tissue-based replacement therapies. Therapies that require the use of keratinocyte and fibroblast cells, such as those aimed at treating skin wounds or skin burns, may be optimized by substituting a portion or all of DMSO with HES during cryopreservation protocols.
PMCID: PMC5131400  PMID: 27903244
Fibroblasts; Keratinocytes; Cryoprotectants; Hydroxyethyl starch; Dimethyl sulfoxide; Cryopreservation
8.  Optimization of Storage and Shipment of Cryopreserved Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells from HIV-Infected and Uninfected Individuals for ELISPOT Assays 
Journal of immunological methods  2010;363(1):42-50.
Functional immunologic assays using cryopreserved peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) are influenced by blood processing, storage and shipment. The objective of this study was to compare the viability, recovery and ELISPOT results of PBMC stored and shipped in liquid nitrogen (LN/LN) or stored in LN and shipped on dry ice (LN/DI) or stored at −70°C for 3 to 12 weeks and shipped on DI (70/DI 3 to 12); and to assess the effect of donor HIV infection status on the interaction between storage/shipment and the outcome measures. PBMC from 12 HIV-infected and 12 uninfected donors showed that LN/LN conferred higher viability and recovery than LN/DI or 70/DI 3, 6, 9 or 12. LN/DI PBMC had higher viability than any 70/DI PBMC. The PBMC viability and recovery linearly decreased with the duration of storage at −70°C from 3 to 12 weeks. This effect was more pronounced in samples from HIV-infected than uninfected donors. Results of ELISPOT assays using CMV pp65, CEF and Candida albicans antigens were qualitatively and quantitatively similar across LN/LN, LN/DI and 70/DI 3. However, ELISPOT values significantly decreased with the duration of storage at −70°C both in HIV-infected and uninfected donors. ELISPOT results also decreased with PBMC viability <70%.
PMCID: PMC3068047  PMID: 20888337
9.  Phenotypic and Functional Characterization of Long-Term Cryopreserved Human Adipose-derived Stem Cells 
Scientific Reports  2015;5:9596.
Cryopreservation represents an effective technique to maintain the functional properties of human adipose-derived stem cells (ASCs) and allows pooling of cells via long-term storage for clinical applications, e.g., cell-based therapies. It is crucial to reduce freezing injury during the cryopreservation process by loading the ASCs with the optimum concentration of suitable cryoprotective agents (CPAs). In this study, human ASCs were preserved for 3 months in different combinations of CPAs, including 1) 0.25 M trehalose; 2) 5% dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO); 3) 10% DMSO; 4) 5% DMSO + 20% fetal bovine serum (FBS); 5) 10% DMSO + 20% FBS; 6) 10% DMSO + 90% FBS. Interestingly, even with a reduction of DMSO to 5% and without FBS, cryopreserved ASCs maintained high cell viability comparable with standard cryomedium (10% DMSO + 90% FBS), with normal cell phenotype and proliferation rate. Cryopreserved ASCs also maintained their differentiation capability (e.g., to adipocytes, osteocytes and chondrocytes) and showed an enhanced expression level of stemness markers (e.g., NANOG, OCT-4, SOX-2 and REX-1). Our findings suggest that 5% DMSO without FBS may be an ideal CPA for an efficient long-term cryopreservation of human ASCs. These results aid in establishing standardized xeno-free long-term cryopreservation of human ASCs for clinical applications.
PMCID: PMC4397835  PMID: 25872464
10.  The effects of storage temperature on PBMC gene expression 
BMC Immunology  2016;17:6.
Cryopreservation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) is a common and essential practice in conducting research. There are different reports in the literature as to whether cryopreserved PBMCs need to only be stored ≤ −150 °C or can be stored for a specified time at −80 °C. Therefore, we performed gene expression analysis on cryopreserved PBMCs stored at both temperatures for 14 months and PBMCs that underwent temperature cycling 104 times between these 2 storage temperatures. Real-time RT-PCR was performed to confirm the involvement of specific genes associated with identified cellular pathways. All cryopreserved/stored samples were compared to freshly isolated PBMCs and between storage conditions.
We identified a total of 1,367 genes whose expression after 14 months of storage was affected >3 fold in PBMCs following isolation, cryopreservation and thawing as compared to freshly isolated PBMC aliquots that did not undergo cryopreservation. Sixty-six of these genes were shared among two or more major stress-related cellular pathways (stress responses, immune activation and cell death). Thirteen genes involved in these pathways were tested by real-time RT-PCR and the results agreed with the corresponding microarray data. There was no significant change on the gene expression if the PBMCs experienced brief but repetitive temperature cycling as compared to those that were constantly kept ≤ −150 °C. However, there were 18 genes identified to be different when PBMCs were stored at −80 °C but did not change when stored < −150 °C. A correlation was also found between the expressions of 2′–5′- oligoadenylate synthetase (OAS2), a known interferon stimulated gene (IFSG), and poor PBMC recovery post-thaw. PBMC recovery and viability were better when the cells were stored ≤ −150 °C as compared to −80 °C.
Not only is the viability and recovery of PBMCs affected during cryopreservation but also their gene expression pattern, as compared to freshly isolated PBMCs. Different storage temperature of PBMCs can activate or suppress different genes, but the cycling between −80 °C and −150 °C did not produce significant alterations in gene expression when compared to PBMCs stored ≤ −150 °C. Further analysis by gene expression of various PBMC processing and cryopreservation procedures is currently underway, as is identifying possible molecular mechanisms.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12865-016-0144-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4791795  PMID: 26979060
Cryopreservation; Peripheral blood mononuclear cells; Gene expression
11.  Optimal Thawing of Cryopreserved Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells for Use in High-Throughput Human Immune Monitoring Studies  
Cells  2012;1(3):313-324.
Cryopreserved peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) constitute an important component of immune monitoring studies as they allow for efficient batch- testing of samples as well as for the validation and extension of original studies in the future. In this study, we systematically test the permutations of PBMC thawing practices commonly employed in the field and identify conditions that are high and low risk for the viability of PBMC and their functionality in downstream ELISPOT assays. The study identifies the addition of ice-chilled washing media to thawed cells at the same temperature as being a high risk practice, as it yields significantly lower viability and functionality of recovered PBMC when compared to warming the cryovials to 37 °C and adding a warm washing medium. We found thawed PBMC in cryovials could be kept up to 30 minutes at 37 °C in the presence of DMSO before commencement of washing, which surprisingly identifies exposure to DMSO as a low risk step during the thawing process. This latter finding is of considerable practical relevance since it permits batch-thawing of PBMC in high-throughput immune monitoring environments.
PMCID: PMC3901099  PMID: 24710478
ELISPOT; PBMC; T cells; cryopreservation; DMSO
12.  Cryopreservation of Human Wharton’s Jelly-derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells Following Controlled Rate Freezing Protocol Using Different Cryoprotectants; A Comparative Study 
To compare the effect of three different cryoprotectants on basic stem cell characteristics for the possibility of using well defined, dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) and serum free freezing solutions to cryopreserve human Wharton’s jelly-derived mesenchymal stem cells (WJMSCs) following controlled rate freezing protocol.
The mesenchymal stem cells isolated from human Wharton’s jelly were cryopreserved using 10% DMSO, 10% polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) and a cocktail solution comprising of 0.05 M glucose, 0.05 M sucrose and 1.5 M ethylene glycol following controlled rate freezing protocol. We investigated the post-thaw cell viability, morphology, proliferation capacity, basic stem cell characteristics, in vitro differentiation potential and apoptosis-related gene expression profile before and after cryopreservation.
The cryoprotectant 10% DMSO has shown higher post-thaw cell viability of 81.2±0.58% whereas 10% PVP and cocktail solution have shown 62.87±0.35% and 72.2±0.23%, respectively at 0 h immediately thawing. The cell viability was further reduced in all the cryopreserved groups at 24 h later post-thaw culture. Further, the complete elimination of FBS in cryoprotectants has resulted in drastic reduction in cell viability. Cryopreservation did not alter the basic stem cell characteristics, plasticity and multipotency except proliferation rate. The expression of pro-apoptotic BAX and p53 genes were higher whilst p21 was lower in all the cryopreserved groups when compare to the control group of WJMSCs.
Although 10% DMSO has shown higher post-thaw cell viability compare to 10% PVP and cocktail solution, the present study indicates the feasibility of developing a well-defined DMSO free cryosolution which can improve storage and future broad range applications of WJMSCs in regenerative medicine without losing their basic stem cell characteristics.
PMCID: PMC4651280  PMID: 26634064
Apoptosis; Cocktail solution; Controlled rate freezing; Cryopreservation; Wharton’s jelly mesenchymal stem cells
13.  Effect of different freezing rates during cryopreservation of rat mesenchymal stem cells using combinations of hydroxyethyl starch and dimethylsulfoxide 
BMC Biotechnology  2012;12:49.
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are increasingly used as therapeutic agents as well as research tools in regenerative medicine. Development of technologies which allow storing and banking of MSC with minimal loss of cell viability, differentiation capacity, and function is required for clinical and research applications. Cryopreservation is the most effective way to preserve cells long term, but it involves potentially cytotoxic compounds and processing steps. Here, we investigate the effect of decreasing dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) concentrations in cryosolution by substituting with hydroxyethyl starch (HES) of different molecular weights using different freezing rates. Post-thaw viability, phenotype and osteogenic differentiation capacity of MSCs were analysed.
The study confirms that, for rat MSC, cryopreservation effects need to be assessed some time after, rather than immediately after thawing. MSCs cryopreserved with HES maintain their characteristic cell surface marker expression as well as the osteogenic, adipogenic and chondrogenic differentiation potential. HES alone does not provide sufficient cryoprotection for rat MSCs, but provides good cryoprotection in combination with DMSO, permitting the DMSO content to be reduced to 5%. There are indications that such a combination would seem useful not just for the clinical disadvantages of DMSO but also based on a tendency for reduced osteogenic differentiation capacity of rat MSC cryopreserved with high DMSO concentration. HES molecular weight appears to play only a minor role in its capacity to act as a cryopreservation solution for MSC. The use of a ‘straight freeze’ protocol is no less effective in maintaining post-thaw viability of MSC compared to controlled rate freezing methods.
A 5% DMSO / 5% HES solution cryopreservation solution using a ‘straight freeze’ approach can be recommended for rat MSC.
PMCID: PMC3465236  PMID: 22889198
Mesenchymal stem cells; Cryopreservation; Controlled rate freezing; Hydroxyethyl starch
14.  Towards an advanced therapy medicinal product based on mesenchymal stromal cells isolated from the umbilical cord tissue: quality and safety data 
Standardization of mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) manufacturing is urgently needed to enable translational activities and ultimately facilitate comparison of clinical trial results. In this work we describe the adaptation of a proprietary method for isolation of a specific umbilical cord tissue-derived population of MSCs, herein designated by its registered trademark as UCX®, towards the production of an advanced therapy medicinal product (ATMP).
The adaptation focused on different stages of production, from cell isolation steps to cell culturing and cryopreservation. The origin and quality of materials and reagents were considered and steps for avoiding microbiological and endotoxin contamination of the final cell product were implemented. Cell isolation efficiency, MSCs surface markers and genetic profiles, originating from the use of different medium supplements, were compared. The ATMP-compliant UCX® product was also cryopreserved avoiding the use of dimethyl sulfoxide, an added benefit for the use of these cells as an ATMP. Cells were analyzed for expansion capacity and longevity. The final cell product was further characterized by flow cytometry, differentiation potential, and tested for contaminants at various passages. Finally, genetic stability and immune properties were also analyzed.
The isolation efficiency of UCX® was not affected by the introduction of clinical grade enzymes. Furthermore, isolation efficiencies and phenotype analyses revealed advantages in the use of human serum in cell culture as opposed to human platelet lysate. Initial decontamination of the tissue followed by the use of mycoplasma- and endotoxin-free materials and reagents in cell isolation and subsequent culture, enabled the removal of antibiotics during cell expansion. UCX®-ATMP maintained a significant expansion potential of 2.5 population doublings per week up to passage 15 (P15). They were also efficiently cryopreserved in a DMSO-free cryoprotectant medium with approximately 100% recovery and 98% viability post-thaw. Additionally, UCX®-ATMP were genetically stable upon expansion (up to P15) and maintained their immunomodulatory properties.
We have successfully adapted a method to consistently isolate, expand and cryopreserve a well-characterized population of human umbilical cord tissue-derived MSCs (UCX®), in order to obtain a cell product that is compliant with cell therapy. Here, we present quality and safety data that support the use of the UCX® as an ATMP, according to existing international guidelines.
PMCID: PMC4055140  PMID: 24438697
15.  Benefits of a comprehensive quality program for cryopreserved PBMC covering 28 clinical trials sites utilizing an integrated, analytical web-based portal 
The HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN) is a global network of 28 clinical trial sites dedicated to identifying an effective HIV vaccine. Cryopreservation of high-quality peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) is critical for the assessment of vaccine-induced cellular immune functions. The HVTN PBMC Quality Management Program is designed to ensure viable PBMC are processed, stored and shipped for clinical trial assays from all HVTN clinical trial sites. The program has evolved by developing and incorporating best practices for laboratory and specimen quality and implementing automated, web-based tools. These tools allow the site-affiliated processing laboratories and the central Laboratory Operations Unit to rapidly collect, analyze and report PBMC quality data. The HVTN PBMC Quality Management Program includes five key components: 1) Laboratory Assessment, 2) PBMC Training and Certification, 3) Internal Quality Control, 4) External Quality Control (EQC), and 5) Assay Specimen Quality Control. Fresh PBMC processing data is uploaded from each clinical site processing laboratory to a central HVTN Statistical and Data Management Center database for access and analysis on a web portal. Samples are thawed at a central laboratory for assay or specimen quality control and sample quality data is uploaded directly to the database by the central laboratory. Four year cumulative data covering 23,477 blood draws reveals an average fresh PBMC yield of 1.45×106 ±0.48 cells per milliliter of useable whole blood. 95% of samples were within the acceptable range for fresh cell yield of 0.8–3.2×106 cells/ml of usable blood. Prior to full implementation of the HVTN PBMC Quality Management Program, the 2007 EQC evaluations from 10 international sites showed a mean day 2 thawed viability of 83.1% and recovery of 67.5%. Since then, four year cumulative data covering 3338 specimens used in immunologic assays shows that 99.88% had acceptable viabilities (>66%) for use in cellular assays (mean, 91.46% ±4.5%), and 96.2% had acceptable recoveries (50%–130%) with a mean of recovery of 85.8% ±19.12% of the originally cryopreserved cells. EQC testing revealed that since August 2009, failed recoveries dropped from 4.1% to 1.6% and failed viabilities dropped from 1.0% to 0.3%. The HVTN PBMC quality program provides for laboratory assessment, training and tools for identifying problems, implementing corrective action and monitoring for improvements. These data support the benefits of implementing a comprehensive, web-based PBMC quality program for large clinical trials networks.
PMCID: PMC4195741  PMID: 24709391
16.  Enzyme-Linked Immunospot Assay for Detection of Human Respiratory Syncytial Virus F Protein-Specific Gamma Interferon-Producing T Cells 
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) causes significant disease in elderly adults, and we have previously reported that individuals 65 years of age and older have reduced RSV F protein-specific gamma interferon (IFN-γ)-producing T cells compared to healthy younger adults. To measure RSV F-specific memory T cell responses in the elderly following infection or vaccination, we optimized and qualified an IFN-γ enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISPOT) assay. Since peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from the elderly could be more fragile, we established optimal cryopreservation techniques and minimal viability acceptance criteria. The number of cells per well, types and concentrations of stimulation antigens, and incubation times were evaluated to maximize assay sensitivity and precision. The optimized assay uses 300,000 cells/well, 2 μg/ml of an RSV F peptide pool (RSV Fpp), and incubation for 22 ± 2 h in serum-free CTL-Test medium. The assay was qualified by 3 analysts using 3 RSV F-responding donor PBMC samples (high, medium, and low responders) tested on 5 different assay days. The assay sensitivity or limit of detection (LOD) was determined to be 21 spot-forming cells (SFC) per 106 PBMC, and the lower limit of quantitation (LLOQ) was estimated to be 63 SFC/106 PBMC. The intra- and interassay percent coefficients of variation (CV) were <10.5% and <31%, respectively. The results of the qualification study demonstrate that a robust, precise, and sensitive IFN-γ ELISPOT assay has been developed that is fit for measuring RSV F-specific IFN-γ T cell responses in subjects enrolled in a vaccine clinical trial or in epidemiology studies.
PMCID: PMC4018879  PMID: 24574540
17.  Establishment and maintenance of a PBMC repository for functional cellular studies in support of clinical vaccine trials 
A large repository of cryopreserved peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) samples was created to provide laboratories testing the specimens from human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1) vaccine clinical trials the material for assay development, optimization, and validation. One hundred thirty-one PBMC samples were collected using leukapheresis procedure between 2007 and 2013 by the Comprehensive T cell Vaccine Immune Monitoring Consortium core repository. The donors included 83 human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1) seronegative and 32 HIV-1 seropositive subjects. The samples were extensively characterized for the ability of T cell subsets to respond to recall viral antigens including cytomegalovirus, Epstein– Barr virus, influenza virus, and HIV-1 using Interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) enzyme linked immunospot (ELISpot) and IFN-γ/interleukin 2 (IL-2) intracellular cytokine staining (ICS) assays. A subset of samples was evaluated over time to determine the integrity of the cryopreserved samples in relation to recovery, viability, and functionality. The principal results of our study demonstrate that viable and functional cells were consistently recovered from the cryopreserved samples. Therefore, we determined that this repository of large size cryopreserved cellular samples constitutes a unique resource for laboratories that are involved in optimization and validation of assays to evaluate T, B, and NK cellular functions in the context of clinical trials.
PMCID: PMC4152919  PMID: 24787274
Peripheral blood mononuclear cells; Cryopreservation; Repository
18.  Viable Mononuclear Cell Stability Study for Implementation in a Proficiency Testing Program: Impact of Shipment Conditions 
Biopreservation and Biobanking  2014;12(3):206-216.
The impact of shipping temperatures and preservation media used during transport of either peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) or Jurkat cells was assessed, in view of implementing of a proficiency testing scheme on mononuclear cell viability. Samples were analyzed before and after shipment at different temperatures (ambient temperature, dry ice, and liquid nitrogen) and in different preservation media (serum with cryoprotectant, commercial cryopreservation solution, and room temperature transport medium). Sample quality was assessed by viability assays (Trypan Blue dye exclusion, flow cytometry, Cell Analysis System cell counting (CASY)), and by ELISpot functional assay. The liquid nitrogen storage and shipment were found to be the most stable conditions to preserve cell viability and functionality. However, we show that alternative high quality shipment conditions for viable cells are dry ice shipment and commercial cryopreservation solution. These were also cost-efficient shipment conditions, satisfying the requirements of a proficiency testing scheme for viable mononuclear cells. Room temperature transport medium dramatically and adversely affected the integrity of mononuclear cells.
PMCID: PMC4955601  PMID: 24955735
19.  Improved Post-Thaw Recovery of Peripheral Blood Stem/Progenitor Cells Using a Novel Intracellular-like Cryopreservation Solution 
Cytotherapy  2009;11(4):472-479.
Peripheral blood stem cells (PBSC) have become the preferred stem cell source for autologous hematopoietic transplantation. A critical aspect of this treatment modality is cryopreservation of the stem cell products, which permits temporal separation of the PBSC mobilization/collection phase from the subsequent high-dose therapy. While controlled rate freezing and liquid nitrogen storage have become “routine” practice in many cell processing facilities, there is clearly room for improvement, as current cryopreservation media formulations still result in significant loss and damage to the stem/progenitor cell populations essential for engraftment, and can also expose the patients to relatively undefined serum components and larger volumes of DMSO that can contribute to the morbidity and mortality of the transplant therapy.
This study compared cryopreservation of PBSC in a novel intracellular-like, fully defined, serum- and protein-free preservation solution, CryoStor™ (BioLife Solutions, Inc.), with a standard formulation used by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (FHCRC). Briefly, human PBSC apheresis specimens were collected and 5 × 107 cells/1 ml sample vial were prepared for cryopreservation in the following solutions: 1) FHCRC standard – Normosol-R, 5% HSA, 10% DMSO, and 2) CryoStor™ CS10 (final diluted conc. of 5% DMSO). A standard controlled-rate freezing program was employed, and frozen vials were stored in the vapor phase of a liquid nitrogen freezer for a minimum of one week. Vials were then thawed and evaluated for TNC, Viability, CD34, and granulocytes by flow cytometry, along with colony-forming activity in methylcellulose.
The PBSC samples frozen in CryoStor™ CS10 yielded significantly improved post-thaw recoveries for total viable CD34+, CFU, and viable granulocytes. Specifically, relative to the FHCRC standard formulation, cryopreservation with CS10 resulted in an average 1.8 fold increased recovery of viable CD34+ cells (P = 0.005), a 1.5 fold increase in CFU-GM numbers (P = 0.030), and a 2.3 fold increase in granulocyte recovery (P = 0.045).
This study indicates that use of CryoStor™ for cryopreservation can yield significantly improved recovery and in vitro functionality of the stem/progenitor cells in PBSC products. In addition, it is important to note that these improved recoveries were obtained while also not introducing any extra serum or serum-derived proteins, and reducing the final concentration/volume of DMSO by half. Further in vitro and in vivo studies are clearly necessary, however these findings imply use of CryoStor™ for cryopreservation might ultimately result in improved engraftment for those patients with lower content of CD34+ cells in their PBSC collections, along with reducing the requirement for additional apheresis collections, and decreasing the risk of adverse infusion reactions associated with higher exposure to DMSO.
PMCID: PMC3021966  PMID: 19499402
Cryopreservation; CryoStor; CD34+; CFU-GM; PBSC
20.  Evaluation of Methylcellulose and Dimethyl Sulfoxide as the Cryoprotectants in a Serum-Free Freezing Media for Cryopreservation of Adipose-Derived Adult Stem Cells 
Stem Cells and Development  2010;19(4):513-522.
Developing effective techniques for the cryopreservation of human adipose-derived adult stem cells (ASCs) could increase the usefulness of these cells in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. To this end, we investigated the post-freeze/thaw viability and apoptotic behavior of Passage 1 (P1) adult stem cells (ASCs) in 11 different media: (i) the traditional media containing Dulbecco’s modified Eagle’s medium (DMEM) with 80% fetal calf serum (FCS) and 10% dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), (ii) DMEM with 80% human serum (HS) and 10% DMSO, (iii) DMEM with 1% methyl cellulose (MC) and 10% of either HS or FCS or DMSO, and (iv) DMEM with 0%, 2%, 4%, 6%, 8%, or 10% DMSO. Approximately 1 mL (106 cells/mL) of P1 ASCs were frozen overnight in a −80°C freezer and stored in liquid nitrogen for 2 weeks before being rapidly thawed in a 37°C water bath (1–2 min of agitation), resuspended in culture media, and seeded in separate wells of a 6-well plate for a 24-h incubation period at 37°C. After 24 h, the thawed samples were analyzed by bright-field microscopy and flow cytometry. The results suggest that the absence of DMSO (and the presence of MC) significantly increases the fraction of apoptotic and/or necrotic ASCs. However, the percentage of viable cells obtained with 2% DMSO and DMEM was comparable with that obtained in freezing media with 10% DMSO and 80% serum (HS or FCS), that is, ∼84% ± 5% and ∼84% ± 8%, respectively. Adipogenic and osteogenic differentiation behavior of the frozen thawed cells was also assessed using histochemical staining. Our results suggest that post-thaw ASC viability, adipogenic and osteogenic differentiability can be maintained even when they are frozen in the absence of serum but with a minimal concentration of 2% DMSO in DMEM.
PMCID: PMC3139530  PMID: 19788372
21.  Controlled-rate freezer cryopreservation of highly concentrated peripheral blood mononuclear cells results in higher cell yields and superior autologous T-cell stimulation for dendritic cell-based immunotherapy 
Cancer Immunology, Immunotherapy  2012;61(11):2021-2031.
Availability of large quantities of functionally effective dendritic cells (DC) represents one of the major challenges for immunotherapeutic trials against infectious or malignant diseases. Low numbers or insufficient T-cell activation of DC may result in premature termination of treatment and unsatisfying immune responses in clinical trials. Based on the notion that cryopreservation of monocytes is superior to cryopreservation of immature or mature DC in terms of resulting DC quantity and immuno-stimulatory capacity, we aimed to establish an optimized protocol for the cryopreservation of highly concentrated peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) for DC-based immunotherapy. Cryopreserved cell preparations were analyzed regarding quantitative recovery, viability, phenotype, and functional properties. In contrast to standard isopropyl alcohol (IPA) freezing, PBMC cryopreservation in an automated controlled-rate freezer (CRF) with subsequent thawing and differentiation resulted in significantly higher cell yields of immature and mature DC. Immature DC yields and total protein content after using CRF were comparable with results obtained with freshly prepared PBMC and exceeded results of standard IPA freezing by approximately 50 %. While differentiation markers, allogeneic T-cell stimulation, viability, and cytokine profiles were similar to DC from standard freezing procedures, DC generated from CRF-cryopreserved PBMC induced a significantly higher antigen-specific IFN-γ release from autologous effector T cells. In summary, automated controlled-rate freezing of highly concentrated PBMC represents an improved method for increasing DC yields and autologous T-cell stimulation.
PMCID: PMC3493671  PMID: 22527251
DC; Dendritic cells; Cryopreservation; Cellular immunotherapy; Cell yields
22.  Optimal Blood Mononuclear Cell Isolation Procedures for Gamma Interferon Enzyme-Linked Immunospot Testing of Healthy Swedish and Tanzanian Subjects▿  
Determination of antigen-specific T-cell responses is an important part of vaccine assessment. High levels of recovery, viability, and functionality of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) are essential for reliable assessment of cell-mediated immune responses. Here, we sought to find the cell preparation technique best suited for two clinical vaccine trial sites: Stockholm, Sweden, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Standard Ficoll-Paque gradient centrifugation, BD Vacutainer cell preparation tube (CPT), and Greiner Bio-One LeucoSep tube techniques were tested. Cell yield and viability were recorded. Gamma interferon (IFN-γ) enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISPOT) testing was used to assess cell functionality. No differences in mean recovery or mean viability of fresh PBMCs were observed between Ficoll-Paque gradient centrifugation and CPT techniques as used in Stockholm. In Dar es Salaam, recovery of PBMCs isolated by use of the Ficoll-Paque gradient technique was higher than that seen with CPT (1.58 ± 0.6 versus 1.34 ± 0.4 million cells/ml of blood [P = 0.0469]), and the viability of PBMCs processed by Ficoll-Paque gradient was higher than that seen with CPT-purified cells (95.8% ± 2.3% versus 92.6% ± 4.8% [P = 0.0081]). Furthermore, LeucoSep cell separation gave higher levels of yield (1.10 ± 0.3 versus 0.92 ± 0.3 million cells/ml of blood [P = 0.0022]) and viability (95.7% ± 2.0% versus 93.4% ± 3.2% [P = 0.0012]) than Ficoll-Paque cell separation. The cells purified by the different techniques at the two sites performed equally well in IFN-γ ELISPOT assays. Both techniques generated cell preparations with excellent yield, viability, and functionality in Stockholm. In Dar es Salaam, CPT did not perform as well as Ficoll-Paque separation. In a subsequent comparison, LeucoSep performed better than Ficoll-Paque separation. Our findings emphasize the need for on-site assessment of PBMC purification techniques for optimal evaluation of cell-mediated immune responses.
PMCID: PMC2292660  PMID: 18287577
23.  Impact of Procedural Steps and Cryopreservation Agents in the Cryopreservation of Chlorophyte Microalgae 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e78668.
The maintenance of traditional microalgae collections based on liquid and solid media is labour intensive, costly and subject to contamination and genetic drift. Cryopreservation is therefore the method of choice for the maintenance of microalgae culture collections, but success is limited for many species. Although the mechanisms underlying cryopreservation are understood in general, many technical variations are present in the literature and the impact of these are not always elaborated. This study describes two-step cryopreservation processes in which 3 microalgae strains representing different cell sizes were subjected to various experimental approaches to cryopreservation, the aim being to investigate mechanistic factors affecting cell viability. Sucrose and dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) were used as cryoprotectants. They were found to have a synergistic effect in the recovery of cryopreserved samples of many algal strains, with 6.5% being the optimum DMSO concentration. The effect of sucrose was shown to be due to improved cell survival and recovery after thawing by comparing the effect of sucrose on cell viability before or after cryopreservation. Additional factors with a beneficial effect on recovery were the elimination of centrifugation steps (minimizing cell damage), the reduction of cell concentration (which is proposed to reduce the generation of toxic cell wall components) and the use of low light levels during the recovery phase (proposed to reduce photooxidative damage). The use of the best conditions for each of these variables yielded an improved protocol which allowed the recovery and subsequent improved culture viability of a further 16 randomly chosen microalgae strains. These isolates included species from Chlorellaceae, Palmellaceae, Tetrasporaceae, Palmellopsis, Scenedesmaceae and Chlamydomonadaceae that differed greatly in cell diameter (3–50 µm), a variable that can affect cryopreservation success. The collective improvement of each of these parameters yielded a cryopreservation protocol that can be applied to a broad range of microalgae.
PMCID: PMC3823882  PMID: 24244336
24.  Efficient long-term cryopreservation of pluripotent stem cells at −80 °C 
Scientific Reports  2016;6:34476.
Current long term cryopreservation of cell stocks routinely requires the use of liquid nitrogen (LN2), because commonly used cryopreservation media containing cell membrane permeating cryoprotectants are thermally unstable when frozen at higher storage temperatures, e.g. −80 °C. This instability leads to ice recrystallization, causing progressive loss of cell viability over time under the storage conditions provided by most laboratory deep freezers. The dependency on LN2 for cell storage significantly increases operational expense and raises issues related to impaired working efficiency and safety. Here we demonstrate that addition of Ficoll 70 to cryoprotectant solutions significantly improves system thermal stability at the working temperature (~−80 °C) of laboratory deep freezers. Moreover, a medium comprised of Ficoll 70 and dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) in presence or absence of fetal bovine serum (FBS) can provide reliable cryopreservation of various kinds of human and porcine pluripotent stem cells at −80 °C for periods that extend up to at least one year, with the post-thaw viability, plating efficiency, and full retention of pluripotent phenotype comparable to that achieved with LN2 storage. These results illustrate the practicability of a promising long-term cryopreservation method that completely eliminates the need for LN2.
PMCID: PMC5046093  PMID: 27694817
25.  Circulating Angiogenic Cells can be Derived from Cryopreserved Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e48067.
Cell transplantation for regenerative medicine has become an appealing therapeutic method; however, stem and progenitor cells are not always freshly available. Cryopreservation offers a way to freeze cells as they are generated, for storage and transport until required for therapy. This study was performed to assess the feasibility of cryopreserving peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) for the subsequent in vitro generation of their derived therapeutic population, circulating angiogenic cells (CACs).
PBMCs were isolated from healthy human donors. Freshly isolated cells were either analyzed immediately or cryopreserved in media containing 6% plasma serum and 5% dimethyl sulfoxide. PBMCs were thawed after being frozen for 1 (early thaw) or 28 (late thaw) days and analyzed, or cultured for 4 days to generate CACs. Analysis of the cells consisted of flow cytometry for viability and phenotype, as well as functional assays for their adhesion and migration potential, cytokine secretion, and in vivo angiogenic potential.
The viability of PBMCs and CACs as well as their adhesion and migration properties did not differ greatly after cryopreservation. Phenotypic changes did occur in PBMCs and to a lesser extent in CACs after freezing; however the potent CD34+VEGFR2+CD133+ population remained unaffected. The derived CACs, while exhibiting changes in inflammatory cytokine secretion, showed no changes in the secretion of important regenerative and chemotactic cytokines, nor in their ability to restore perfusion in ischemic muscle.
Overall, it appears that changes do occur in cryopreserved PBMCs and their generated CACs; however, the CD34+VEGFR2+CD133+ progenitor population, the secretion of pro-vasculogenic factors, and the in vivo angiogenic potential of CACs remain unaffected by cryopreservation.
PMCID: PMC3483876  PMID: 23133548

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