Non-toxic freezing media to retain the stem cell reserves in adipose tissues

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Subcutaneous adipose tissue is a rich source of stromal vascular fraction (SVF) and adipose-derived stromal/stem cells (ASCs) that are inherently multipotent and exhibit regenerative properties. In current practice, lipoaspirate specimens harvested from liposuction surgeries are routinely discarded as a biohazard waste due to a lack of simple, cost effective, and validated cryopreservation protocols. The aim of this study is to develop a xenoprotein-free cryoprotective agent cocktail that will allow for short-term (up to 6 months) preservation of lipoaspirate tissues suitable for fat grafting and/or stromal/stem cell isolation when stored at achievable temperatures (-20 °C or -80 °C). Lipoaspirates donated by three consenting healthy donors undergoing elective cosmetic liposuction surgeries were suspended in five freezing media (FM1: 10% DMSO and 35% BSA; FM2: 2% DMSO and 43% BSA; FM3: 10% DMSO and 35% lipoaspirate saline; FM4: 2% DMSO and 6% HSA; and FM5: 40% lipoaspirate saline and 10% PVP) all suspended in 1X DMEM/F12 and frozen using commercially available freezers (-20 °C or -80 °C) and stored at least for a 1 month. After 1 month of freezing storage, SVF cells and ASCs were isolated from the frozen-thawed lipoaspirates by digestion with collagenase type I. Cell viability was evaluated by fluorescence microscopy after staining with acridine orange and ethidium bromide. The SVF isolated from lipoaspirates frozen at -80 °C retained comparable cell viability with the tested freezing media (FM2, FM3, FM4) comparable with the conventional DMSO and animal serum media (FM1), whereas the FM5 media resulted in lower viability. In contrast, tissues frozen and stored at -20 °C did not yield live SVF cells after thawing and collagenase digestion. The surface marker expression (CD90, CD29, CD34, CD146, CD31, and CD45) of ASCs from frozen lipoaspirates at -80 °C in different cryoprotectant media were also evaluated and no significant differences were found between the groups. The adipogenic and osteogenic differentiation potential were studied by histochemical staining and gene expression by qRT-PCR. Oil Red O staining for adipogenesis revealed that the CPA media FM1, FM4 and FM5 displayed robust differentiation. Alizarin Red S staining for osteogenesis revealed that FM1 and FM4 media displayed superior differentiation in comparison to other tested media. Measurement of adipogenic and osteogenic gene expression by qRT-PCR provided similar outcomes and indicated that FM4 CPA media comparable with FM1 for adipogenesis and osteogenesis.

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