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1.  The Unfolded Protein Response in Human Corneal Endothelial Cells Following Hypothermic Storage: Implications of a Novel Stress Pathway 
Cryobiology  2011;63(1):46-55.
Human corneal endothelial cells (HCEC) have become increasingly important for a range of eye disease treatment therapies. Accordingly, a more detailed understanding of the processing and preservation associated stresses experienced by corneal cells might contribute to improved therapeutic outcomes. To this end, the unfolded protein response (UPR) pathway was investigated as a potential mediator of corneal cell death in response to hypothermic storage. Once preservation-induced failure had begun in HCECs stored at 4°C, it was noted that necrosis accounted for the majority of cell death but with significant apoptotic involvement, peaking at several hours post-storage (4-8 hours). Western blot analysis demonstrated changes associated with apoptotic activation (caspase 9, caspase 3, and PARP cleavage). Further, the activation of the UPR pathway was observed through increased and sustained levels of ER folding and chaperone proteins (Bip, PDI, and ERO1-Lα) in samples experiencing significant cell death. Modulation of the UPR pathway using the specific inhibitor, salubrinal, resulted in a 2-fold increase in cell survival in samples experiencing profound cold-induced failure. Furthermore, this increased cell survival was associated with increased membrane integrity, cell attachment, and decreased necrotic cell death populations. Conversely, addition of the UPR inducer, tunicamycin, during cold exposure resulted in a significant decrease in HCEC survival during the recovery period. These data implicate for the first time that this novel cell stress pathway may be activated in HCEC as a result of the complex stresses associated with hypothermic exposure. The data suggest that the targeted control of the UPR pathway during both processing and preservation protocols may improve cell survival and function of HCEC thus improving the clinical utility of these cells as well as whole human corneas.
PMCID: PMC3397425  PMID: 21549109
Apoptosis; Cornea; Unfolded Protein Response; Hypothermia; Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress
2.  In Vitro Assessment of Apoptosis and Necrosis Following Cold Storage in a Human Airway Cell Model 
As advances in medical technology improve the efficacy of cell and tissue transplantation, a void remains in our knowledge base as to the specific molecular responses of cells to low-temperature storage. While much focus has been given to solution formulation for tissue perfusion during storage, investigations into cold exposure-induced complex molecular changes remain limited. The intent of this study was to quantify the levels of cell death following hypothermic storage in a lung cell model, establishing a foundation for future in-depth molecular analysis. Normal human lung fibroblasts (IMR-90) were stored for 1 day or 2 days and small airway epithelial cells (SAEC) were stored for 5 days or 7 days at 4°C in complete media, ViaSpan, or ViaSpan + pan-caspase (VI) inhibitor. (Poststorage viability was assessed for 3 days using alamarBlue™.) Sample analysis revealed that IMR-90 cells stored in ViaSpan remained 80% (±9) viable after 1 day of storage and 21% (±7) viable after 2 days of storage. SAEC cells stored in ViaSpan remained 81% (±5) viable after 5 days and 28% (±7) after 7 days. Microfluidic flow cytometry analysis of the apoptotic and necrotic populations in the ViaSpan-stored samples revealed that in the IMR-90 cells stored for 2 days, 7% of the population was apoptotic at 4-h poststorage, while ∼70% was identified as necrotic. Analysis of the SAEC cell system following 7 days of ViaSpan storage revealed an apoptotic peak of 19% at 4-h poststorage and a corresponding necrotic peak of 19%. Caspase inhibition during hypothermic storage increased viability 33% for IMR-90 and 25% for SAEC. Data revealed a similar pattern of cell death, through both apoptosis and necrosis, once the onset of cold storage failure began, implying a potential conserved mechanism of cold-induced cell death. These data highlight the critical need for a more in-depth understanding of the molecular changes that occur as a result of cold exposure in cells and tissues.
PMCID: PMC3205736  PMID: 22087352

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