Bilirubin, a physiological antioxidant, can improve cryopreservation of human hepatocytes

J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2010 Jun;50(6):691-3. doi: 10.1097/MPG.0b013e3181cd26e5.


The availability of cryopreserved hepatocytes is required for a more widespread use of hepatocyte transplantation, but human hepatocytes are easily damaged during freezing-thawing. Here, preincubation with unconjugated bilirubin, a physiological antioxidant, resulted in increased viability and function of hepatocytes (as determined by trypan blue exclusion, mitochondrial succinate dehydrogenases activity, urea synthesis, and cytochrome P450 1A/2) compared with cells incubated without the pigment. These findings suggest that unconjugated bilirubin may be used as cryoprotectant in clinical hepatocyte transplantation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Bilirubin / pharmacology*
  • Cell Survival / drug effects*
  • Cryopreservation / methods*
  • Cryoprotective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Freezing
  • Hepatocytes / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Organ Preservation / methods*


  • Antioxidants
  • Cryoprotective Agents
  • Bilirubin