Cryopreservation of hepatocytes: a review of current methods for banking

Cell Tissue Bank. 2003;4(1):3-15. doi: 10.1023/A:1026392216017.


Cryopreservation, the freezing of hepatocytes in liquid nitrogen for storage, has been investigated for many years, as a method of long-term storage for hepatocytes. Unfortunately an agreed acceptable protocol has been elusive, in part due to the susceptibility of hepatocytes to the freeze thaw process involved. A method for long-term storage (months, possibly years) of human hepatocytes, in particular, is desirable for the development of a clinically applicable bioartificial liver, hepatocyte transplantation and for pharmacotoxicological research. The sources of human liver tissue from which hepatocytes can be derived are limited. Many groups have modified and improved the process of cryopreservation and many new techniques have been published, including the incorporation of such cryopreserved cells in clinically based studies. Further evaluation is still required to develop a universally acceptable protocol. This article reviews the difficulties involved in cryopreserving hepatocytes for banking and examines recent technical advances within this field.