Evaluation of bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells after cryopreservation and hypothermic storage in clinically safe medium

Tissue Eng Part C Methods. 2012 Jun;18(6):453-63. doi: 10.1089/ten.TEC.2011.0395. Epub 2012 Feb 2.


Achievements in tissue engineering using mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) demand a clinically acceptable "off-the-shelf" cell therapy product. Efficacy of cryopreservation of human bone marrow-derived MSC in clinically safe, animal product-free medium containing 2%, 5%, and 10% dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) was evaluated by measuring cell recovery, viability, apoptosis, proliferation rate, expression of a broad panel of MSC markers, and osteogenic differentiation. Rate-controlled freezing in CryoStor media was performed in a programmable cell freezer. About 95% of frozen cells were recovered as live cells after freezing in CryoStor solutions with 5% and 10% DMSO followed by storage in liquid nitrogen for 1 month. Cell recovery after 5 months storage was 72% and 80% for 5% and 10% DMSO, respectively. Measurements of caspase 3 activity demonstrated that 15.5% and 12.8% of cells after 1 month and 18.3% and 12.9% of cells after 5 months storage in 5% and 10% DMSO, respectively, were apoptotic. Proliferation of MSC recovered after cryopreservation was measured during 2 weeks post-plating. Proliferation rate was not compromised and was even enhanced. Cryopreservation did not alter expression of MSC markers. Quantitative analysis of alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity, ALP surface expression and Ca⁺⁺ deposition in previously cryopreserved MSC and then differentiated for 3 weeks in osteogenic medium demonstrated the same degree of osteogenic differentiation as in unfrozen parallel cultures. Cell viability and functional parameters were analyzed in MSC after short-term storage at 4°C in HypoThermosol-FRS solution, also free of animal products. Hypothermic storage for 2 and 4 days resulted in about 100% and 85% cell recovery, respectively, less than 10% of apoptotic cells, and normal proliferation, marker expression, and osteogenic potential. Overall, our results demonstrate that human MSC could be successfully cryopreserved for banking and clinical applications and delivered to the bedside in clinically safe protective reagents.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alkaline Phosphatase / metabolism
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Biomarkers
  • Bone Marrow Cells / cytology*
  • Bone Marrow Cells / drug effects
  • Calibration
  • Caspase 3 / metabolism
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cold Temperature*
  • Cryopreservation / methods*
  • Culture Media / pharmacology*
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Freezing
  • Humans
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / enzymology
  • Osteogenesis / drug effects
  • Time Factors


  • Biomarkers
  • Culture Media
  • Alkaline Phosphatase
  • Caspase 3