The potential for use of human mesenchymal stem cells in regenerative medicine has been widely discussed, because these cells are capable of differentiating into bone, muscle, cartilage, adipose, and possibly neural tissues. However, current storage methods could limit the accessibility of stem cell therapy. At present, cells must be stored frozen in liquid nitrogen vapor, and the thawing and washing procedures that are necessary before the cells can be used are lengthy and limit cellular recovery. Dehydration poses an alternative strategy, which could prove advantageous with regard to all phases of clinical use, including shipping, storage, reconstitution, and implantation. We report here that human mesenchymal stem cells, protected with the disaccharide trehalose and the hydroquinone arbutin, survive vacuum-drying to below 0.3 g H2O/g dry weight. Furthermore, after rehydration, the cells are metabolically active, capable of adhesion, and exhibit osteogenic differentiation to a greater extent than cells protected by trehalose alone. To our knowledge, this demonstration of cellular differentiation is the first description of normal physiologic activity in dried and rehydrated nucleated cells, beyond simple attachment and growth. Western blot analysis suggested that the mechanism by which arbutin aids recovery may be related to the induction of endogenous heat shock proteins in these cells.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)