Background: Bone marrow, peripheral blood, and umbilical cord blood have been used to prepare autologous and allogeneic pluripotential mononuclear cells for use in the repopulation of bone marrow.
Study Design and Methods: The purpose of this study was to evaluate how the temperature and duration of frozen storage of human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), as well as the freezing container, affected the in vitro recovery and viability of the mononuclear cells and their growth in colony-forming unit-granulocytic-erythroid-monocytic- megakaryocytic (CFU-GEMM) tissue culture assay. PBMCs were isolated from ficoll-hypaque-treated cellular residue obtained during the plateletpheresis of blood from 15 healthy donors. The PBMCs were treated with dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) to achieve a final DMSO concentration of 10 percent. Each unit was then separated into six aliquots: one stored in a polyvinylchloride (PVC) plastic bag, one in a polyolefin plastic bag, and four in polyethylene cryostorage vials. Each aliquot was frozen in a -80 degrees C mechanical freezer at a freezing rate of 2 to 4 degrees C per minute. The frozen PBMCs in PVC bags were stored in a -80 degrees C mechanical freezer and those in polyolefin bags in a -135 degrees C mechanical freezer. Each of the four frozen samples in a vial was stored at a different temperature: one in the -80 degrees C freezer, one in the -135 degrees C freezer, one in the vapor phase of liquid nitrogen at -150 degrees C, and one in liquid nitrogen at -197 degrees C. Some of the frozen PBMCs were stored for periods of 1 to 1.5 years and others for 2 to 2.4 years, after which they were thawed, washed, and tested.
Results: The samples stored in PVC bags and those stored in polyolefin bags exhibited in vitro recoveries that were 90 percent of the recovery of fresh PBMCs and viabilities of 90 percent after 2.4 years of frozen storage. The PBMCs stored in PVC bags exhibited no loss of CFU-GEMM activity after 1 to 1.5 years, but a 40-percent loss of activity was observed after 2 to 2.4 years. PBMCs stored in polyolefin bags, however, exhibited no loss of CFU-GEMM activity, even after 2 to 2.4 years of storage. In vitro recovery was significantly lower in PBMCs stored in vials at -80 degrees C or -135 degrees C than in cells stored in PVC or polyolefin bags at these temperatures, both in the 1- to 1.5-year and the 2- to 2.4-year time frames. In vitro recovery and viability were similar in PBMCs stored in vials at -80 degrees C, -135 degrees C, -150 degrees C, and -197 degrees C. The growth patterns in the CFU-GEMM assay in PBMCs stored in vials were significantly lower after storage at -80 degrees C than after storage at -135 degrees C, -150 degrees C, or -197 degrees C.
Conclusion: PBMCs isolated by leukapheresis and ficoll-hypaque treatment can be frozen with 10-percent DMSO in a -80 degrees C mechanical freezer. When a PVC bag is used for freezing and storage of PBMCs at -80 degrees C, the duration of frozen storage should not exceed 1.5 years, whereas PBMCs frozen in a polyolefin bag can be stored in a -135 degrees C freezer for as long as 2.4 years. When these guidelines were followed, in vitro recovery was 90 percent that of fresh PBMCs, viability was 90 percent, and growth in the CFU-GEMM tissue culture assay was similar to that of fresh PBMCs. The PBMCs frozen and stored in PVC or polyolefin bags exhibited satisfactory results, whereas those stored in cryostorage vials did not.