Subnormothermic preservation maintains viability and function in a porcine hepatocyte culture model simulating bioreactor transport

Cell Transplant. 2006;15(2):161-8. doi: 10.3727/000000006783982089.


Bioartificial liver (BAL) systems have been developed to bridge patients with acute liver failure (ALF) to liver transplantation or liver regeneration. Clinical application of BAL systems is dependent on the supportive quality of cells used and direct availability of the whole system. Reliable transport of BAL systems from the laboratory to remote treatment centers is therefore inevitable. Subsequently, preservation conditions play a crucial role during transport of a BAL, with temperature being one of the most determining factors. In this study, we assessed the effect of subnormothermic preservation on freshly isolated porcine hepatocytes cultured in monolayer under oxygenation. Additionally, the effect of the University of Wisconsin (UW) preservation solution was compared with Williams' E (WE) culture medium at 4 degrees C. The control group was cultured for 3 days at 37 degrees C, whereas the transport groups were cultured at 4 degrees C, 15 degrees C, 21 degrees C, or 28 degrees C for 24 h at day 2. All groups were tested each day for cell damage and hepatic functions. Subnormothermic culture (i.e., 15 degrees C to 28 degrees C) for a period of 24 h did not reduce any hepatic function and did not increase cellular damage. In contrast, culture of hepatocytes in WE medium and preservation in UW solution at 4 degrees C significantly reduced hepatic function. In conclusion, freshly isolated porcine hepatocytes can be preserved for 24 h at subnormothermic temperatures as low as 15 degrees C. Future research will focus on the implementation of the AMC-BAL in an oxygenated culture medium perfusion system for transport between the laboratory and the hospital.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Albumins / analysis
  • Animals
  • Aspartate Aminotransferases / analysis
  • Bioreactors*
  • Cell Count
  • Cell Survival
  • Cell Transplantation / methods*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cold Temperature*
  • Hepatocytes / cytology
  • Hepatocytes / metabolism
  • Hepatocytes / physiology*
  • L-Lactate Dehydrogenase / analysis
  • Liver, Artificial
  • Preservation, Biological / methods*
  • Swine
  • Temperature
  • Time Factors
  • Urea / analysis


  • Albumins
  • Urea
  • L-Lactate Dehydrogenase
  • Aspartate Aminotransferases