Hypothermic maintenance of hepatocyte spheroids

Pamela H. Lai, Qin Meng, Timothy D. Sielaff, Wei Shou Hu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Primary hepatocytes form spheroids under some culture conditions. These spheroids exhibit many tissue-like ultrastructures and retain many liver-specific functions over a long period of time. They are attractive for many applications employing liver cells. The ability to maintain their viability and functions at a reduced temperature to allow for transportation to the site of their application will facilitate their use. Furthermore, with their structural and functional similarity, they could possibly be used as a model system for studying various liver ischemias. The effect of hypothermic treatment was assessed by oxygen consumption rate, ATP, H2O2, and caspase 8 content, as well as albumin and urea synthesis, during and posttreatment. No single outcome variable gives a superlative quantification of hypothermic damage. Taken together, the hypothermic treatment can be seen as increasingly damaging as the temperature decreases from 21°C to 15°C and 4°C. The addition of the chemical protectants glutathione, N-acetyl-L-cystein (NAC), and tauroursodeoxycholic acid (TUDCA) decreased the damaging effect of hypothermic treatment. This protection effect was even more profound when spheroids were preincubated with the protectant for 24 h, and was most prominent at 4°C. The viability of the hypothermically treated hepatocyte spheroids was confirmed by laser scanning confocal microscopy. The method reported provides a means of maintaining spheroids' viability and may allow for their distribution to application sites at a distance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)375-389
Number of pages15
JournalCell transplantation
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2005


  • Cold ischemia
  • Hepatocyte
  • Hypothermic
  • Spheroids


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