Low molecular-weight hyaluronan as a cryoprotectant for the storage of microencapsulated cells

Int J Pharm. 2018 Sep 5;548(1):206-216. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpharm.2018.06.066. Epub 2018 Jun 30.


The low-temperature storage of therapeutic cell-based products plays a crucial role in their clinical translation for the treatment of diverse diseases. Although dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO) is the most successful cryoprotectant in slow freezing of microencapsulated cells, it has shown adverse effects after cryopreserved cell-based products implantation. Therefore, the search of alternative non-toxic cryoprotectants for encapsulated cells is continuously investigated to move from bench to the clinic. In this work, we investigated the low molecular-weight hyaluronan (low MW-HA), a natural non-toxic and non-sulfated glycosaminoglycan, as an alternative non-permeant cryoprotectant for the slow freezing cryopreservation of encapsulated cells. Cryopreservation with low MW-HA provided similar metabolic activity, cell dead and early apoptotic cell percentage and membrane integrity after thawing, than encapsulated cells stored with either DMSO 10% or Cryostor 10. However, the beneficial outcomes with low MW-HA were not comparable to DMSO with some encapsulated cell types, such as the human insulin secreting cell line, 1.1B4, maybe explained by the different expression of the CD44 surface receptor. Altogether, we can conclude that low MW-HA represents a non-toxic natural alternative cryoprotectant to DMSO for the cryopreservation of encapsulated cells.

Keywords: CD44 surface receptor; Cell encapsulation; Cryoprotectant agent (CPA); Dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO); Hyaluronan; Slow freezing.

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cryopreservation*
  • Cryoprotective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Drug Compounding
  • Humans
  • Hyaluronan Receptors / metabolism
  • Hyaluronic Acid / pharmacology*
  • Molecular Weight


  • CD44 protein, human
  • Cryoprotective Agents
  • Hyaluronan Receptors
  • Hyaluronic Acid