Hyaluronan-supplemented buffers preserve adhesion mechanisms facilitating cryopreservation of human hepatic stem/progenitor cells

Cell Transplant. 2012;21(10):2257-66. doi: 10.3727/096368912X637000. Epub 2012 Apr 2.


The supply of human hepatic stem cells (hHpSCs) and other hepatic progenitors has been constrained by the limited availability of liver tissues from surgical resections, the rejected organs from organ donation programs, and the need to use cells immediately. To facilitate accessibility to these precious tissue resources, we have established an effective method for serum-free cryopreservation of the cells, allowing them to be stockpiled and stored for use as an off-the-shelf product for experimental or clinical programs. The method involves use of buffers, some serum-free, designed for cryopreservation and further supplemented with hyaluronans (HA) that preserve adhesion mechanisms facilitating postthaw culturing of the cells and preservation of functions. Multiple cryopreservation buffers were found to yield high viabilities (80-90%) of cells on thawing of the progenitor cells. Serum-free CS10 supplemented with 0.05% hyaluronan proved the most effective, both in terms of viabilities of cells on thawing and in yielding cell attachment and formation of expanding colonies of cells that stably maintain the stem/progenitor cell phenotype. Buffers to which 0.05 or 0.1% HAs were added showed cells postthaw to be phenotypically stable as stem/progenitors, as well as having a high efficiency of attachment and expansion in culture. Success correlated with improved expression of adhesion molecules, particularly CD44, the hyaluronan receptor, E-cadherin, β4 integrin in hHpSCs, and β1 integrins in hepatoblasts. The improved methods in cryopreservation offer more efficient strategies for stem cell banking in both research and potential therapy applications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Buffers
  • Cell Adhesion / drug effects
  • Cell Culture Techniques / methods
  • Cryopreservation / methods*
  • Hepatocytes / cytology
  • Humans
  • Hyaluronic Acid*
  • Liver / cytology*
  • Stem Cells / cytology*


  • Buffers
  • Hyaluronic Acid