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Alternatives to Laboratory Animals - ATLA

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Cryopreservation of Organotypic Brain Spheroid Cultures


Wendy M. Purcell, Christopher K. Atterwill and Jinsheng Xu

The cryopreservation of hen and rat brain spheroids was investigated. Brain spheroid cultures were prepared from 7-day-old hen embryos or 16-day-old rat embryos, by using a rotation-mediated culture system. The spheroids were cryopreserved in medium containing 5–15% dimethyl sulphoxide (DMSO) and stored in liquid nitrogen, by using a two-stage cooling procedure. The results show that the viability, as indicated by the total protein content of hen embryo brain spheroids at 24 hours, and at 3, 7 and 28 days after thawing, ranged from 45.5% to 64.2% of control values. It took 3 days for the post-thaw brain spheroids to stabilise, as indicated by their morphology and selected neural markers of functionality. These functions were maintained over a 28-day observation period. Spheroids cultured for 12–15 days in vitro before cryopreservation survived better than those that were cryopreserved after 5–7 days in vitro. The viability and biochemical functionality of spheroids after long-term (up to 6 months) storage were similar to those following short-term storage. The viability of rat brain spheroids cryopreserved in 15% DMSO, as indicated by total protein content, at 24 hours, and at 3 or 7 days after thawing, ranged from 23.1% to 32.1% of control values. This study shows for the first time that brain spheroids prepared from primary tissue can be successfully cryopreserved.