Cryopreserved precision-cut rat liver slices: morphology and cytochrome P450 isoforms expression after prolonged incubation

Toxicol In Vitro. 2002 Dec;16(6):749-58. doi: 10.1016/s0887-2333(02)00086-3.


Precision-cut liver slices are an accepted in vitro system for toxicological investigations. However, cryopreservation of slices would make a more efficient utilisation, particularly of human liver tissue possible. In the present study sections of cryopreserved male rat liver slices were examined immunohistochemically for cytochrome P450 (CYP) isoforms expression after prolonged incubation and after exposure to typical inducers. Morphologically, with just thawed slices no major alterations were seen, but remarkable cell damage was observed even after 2 h of incubation mainly in the middle of the slices and in the periportal and intermediate regions of the lobules. After 24 h of incubation, viable cells were only observed at the edges of the slices or around bigger vessels. In the viable cells of the cryopreserved liver slices after 2 h of incubation CYP expression pattern was similar to that in normal liver specimens: a low CYP1A1, but a strong CYP2B1 and 3A2 expression predominantly in the central and intermediate lobular zones. After 24 h, the immunostaining for CYP2B1 and 3A2 in the viable cells was reduced, but that for CYP1A1 was increased. Incubation with beta-naphthoflavone further elevated CYP1A1 and 2B1 expression. Phenobarbital caused an enhanced CYP2B1 and 3A2 and dexamethasone and pregnenolone 16 alpha-carbonitrile an increased CYP3A2 immunostaining. These results show that also in cryopreserved liver slices and after a prolonged incubation, a distinct expression pattern and an in vitro induction of phase I enzymes can be demonstrated immunohistochemically.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cryopreservation*
  • Culture Techniques
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / biosynthesis*
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / pharmacology
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Incubators
  • Isoenzymes
  • Liver / anatomy & histology*
  • Liver / enzymology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Specimen Handling
  • Xenobiotics / adverse effects


  • Isoenzymes
  • Xenobiotics
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System