Cryopreservation of pluripotent stem cell aggregates in defined protein-free formulation

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Cultivation of undifferentiated pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) as aggregates has emerged as an efficient culture configuration, enabling rapid and controlled large scale expansion. Aggregate-based PSC cryopreservation facilitates the integrated process of cell expansion and cryopreservation, but its feasibility has not been demonstrated. The goals of current study are to assess the suitability of cryopreserving intact mouse embryonic stem cell (mESC) aggregates and investigate the effects of aggregate size and the formulation of cryopreservation solution on mESC survival and recovery. The results demonstrated the size-dependent cell survival and recovery of intact aggregates. In particular, the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and caspase activation were reduced for small aggregates (109 ± 55 μm) compared to medium (245 ± 77 μm) and large (365 ± 141 μm) ones, leading to the improved cell recovery. In addition, a defined protein-free formulation was tested and found to promote the aggregate survival, eliminating the cell exposure to animal serum. The cryopreserved aggregates also maintained the pluripotent markers and the differentiation capacity into three-germ layers after thawing. In summary, the cryopreservation of small PSC aggregates in a defined protein-free formulation was shown to be a suitable approach toward a fully integrated expansion and cryopreservation process at large scale. © 2012 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Biotechnol. Prog., 2013

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