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Circulating Angiogenic Cells can be Derived from Cryopreserved Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells


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Cell transplantation for regenerative medicine has become an appealing therapeutic method; however, stem and progenitor cells are not always freshly available. Cryopreservation offers a way to freeze cells as they are generated, for storage and transport until required for therapy. This study was performed to assess the feasibility of cryopreserving peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) for the subsequent in vitro generation of their derived therapeutic population, circulating angiogenic cells (CACs). PBMCs were isolated from healthy human donors. Freshly isolated cells were either analyzed immediately or cryopreserved in media containing 6% plasma serum and 5% dimethyl sulfoxide. PBMCs were thawed after being frozen for 1 (early thaw) or 28 (late thaw) days and analyzed, or cultured for 4 days to generate CACs. Analysis of the cells consisted of flow cytometry for viability and phenotype, as well as functional assays for their adhesion and migration potential, cytokine secretion, and in vivo angiogenic potential. The viability of PBMCs and CACs as well as their adhesion and migration properties did not differ greatly after cryopreservation. Phenotypic changes did occur in PBMCs and to a lesser extent in CACs after freezing; however the potent CD34(+)VEGFR2(+)CD133(+) population remained unaffected. The derived CACs, while exhibiting changes in inflammatory cytokine secretion, showed no changes in the secretion of important regenerative and chemotactic cytokines, nor in their ability to restore perfusion in ischemic muscle. Overall, it appears that changes do occur in cryopreserved PBMCs and their generated CACs; however, the CD34(+)VEGFR2(+)CD133(+) progenitor population, the secretion of pro-vasculogenic factors, and the in vivo angiogenic potential of CACs remain unaffected by cryopreservation.
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Circulating Angiogenic Cells can be Derived from
Cryopreserved Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells
Tanja Sofrenovic
, Kimberly McEwan
, Suzanne Crowe
, Jenelle Marier
, Robbie Davies
Erik J. Suuronen
*, Drew Kuraitis
1 Division of Cardiac Surgery, University of Ottawa Heart Institute, Ottawa, Canada, 2 Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa,
Canada, 3 Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada, 4 Department of Statistics, University of Ottawa Heart Institute, Ottawa, Canada
Cell transplantation for regenerative medicine has become an appealing therapeutic method; however, stem
and progenitor cells are not always freshly available. Cryopreservation offers a way to freeze cells as they are generated, for
storage and transport until required for therapy. This study was performed to assess the feasibility of cryopreserving
peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) for the subsequent in vitro generation of their derived therapeutic population,
circulating angiogenic cells (CACs).
PBMCs were isolated from healthy human donors. Freshly isolated cells were either analyzed immediately or
cryopreserved in media containing 6% plasma serum and 5% dimethyl sulfoxide. PBMCs were thawed after being frozen for
1 (early thaw) or 28 (late thaw) days and analyzed, or cultured for 4 days to generate CACs. Analysis of the cells consisted of
flow cytometry for viability and phenotype, as well as functional assays for their adhesion and migration potential, cytokine
secretion, and in vivo angiogenic potential.
The viability of PBMCs and CACs as well as their adhesion and migration properties did not differ greatly after
cryopreservation. Phenotypic changes did occur in PBMCs and to a lesser extent in CACs after freezing; however the potent
population remained unaffected. The derived CACs, while exhibiting changes in inflammatory
cytokine secretion, showed no changes in the secretion of important regenerative and chemotactic cytokines, nor in their
ability to restore perfusion in ischemic muscle.
Overall, it appears that changes do occur in cryopreserved PBMCs and their generated CACs; however, the
progenitor population, the secretion of pro-vasculogenic factors, and the in vivo angiogenic
potential of CACs remain unaffected by cryopreservation.
Citation: Sofrenovic T, McEwan K, Crowe S, Marier J, Davies R, et al. (2012) Circulating Angiogenic Cells can be Derived from Cryopreserved Peripheral Blood
Mononuclear Cells. PLoS ONE 7(10): e48067. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0048067
Editor: Zoran Ivanovic, French Blood Institute, France
Received April 17, 2012; Accepted September 20, 2012; Published October 25, 2012
Copyright: ß 2012 Sofrenovic et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits
unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Funding: This work was supported by Grant-in-Aid T6793 from the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario (to ES). TS was supported by Master’s studentship
award from the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario, DK was supported by a Canadian Graduate Scholarship from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.
* E-mail: (DK); (ES)
Although a unifying definition regarding their characterization
does not exist [1,2], endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) often
identified as CD34
cells have the ability to
augment postnatal vasculogenesis [3–6]. The therapeutic revas-
cularization that results from EPC transplantation is believed to be
mediated by two main mechanisms: differentiation into new blood
vessels [7,8] and paracrine signaling to augment endogenous vessel
growth via the production of pro-vasculogenic cytokines [9,10]. In
humans, patients with acute myocardial infarction who received
an intracoronary infusion of bone marrow derived progenitors
(sorted for markers CD34/CD45 and CD133) or peripheral
blood-derived progenitors (plated for 3 days and positive for
endothelial markers such as CD31, KDR (VEGFR2), von
Willebrand factor and CD105 as well as uptake of low density
lipoprotein and lectin binding) saw a beneficial effect in post-
infarction remodeling processes, such as a global increase in
ejection fraction and a decrease in infarct size [11,12]. The
number of EPCs in the blood has been shown to be a predictor of
cardiovascular health: low levels of circulating EPCs have been
associated with increased risk of major cardiovascular events and
vascular function [13].
EPCs can be generated from the culture of peripheral blood
mononuclear cells (PBMCs) isolated from blood by density
gradient centrifugation. PBMCs are cultured for 4–7 days in
endothelial-promoting media on fibronectin and the subsequently
generated therapeutic population is referred to as ‘circulating
angiogenic cells’ (CACs), or early EPCs [2,14].
As cardiovascular disease is the number one leading cause of
death in the Western world [15], there is a potential for CAC
therapy to improve the quality of life for patients of this disease by
aiding in the restoration of blood flow to the heart. However,
EPCs and CACs are not available off-the-shelf and their frequency
PLOS ONE | 1 October 2012 | Volume 7 | Issue 10 | e48067
in circulating PBMCs is rather low, at about 0.0001% to 0.01%
for EPCs [16] and 2% for CACs [17]. Furthermore, diabetes and
cardiovascular disease decrease EPC numbers and function
[18,19], making it difficult to obtain therapeutically-relevant and
potent cells for application in therapy. Cryopreservation offers a
method to maintain cells as they are generated, until they are
required for therapy. More importantly, cryopreservation may
allow a patient to store his or her own autologous cells until
needed, thereby avoiding the risks and potential of graft-versus-
host disease [20].
Cryopreservation has been applied for some time in the medical
field, ranging from freezing of blood and bone marrow cells for
transplantation, to embryo preservation for in vitro fertilization and
long term gamete storage for cancer patients. This process
preserves cells by dramatically reducing biological metabolism at
low temperatures; however, cryopreservation also causes damage
to some cell types, as well as potentially changing their function
[21,22]. One study demonstrated that cryopreservation of T-cell
subsets caused an increase in the expression of CXCR4 and
CD69, while expression of L-selectin (CD62L) was decreased [23].
The consequence of cryopreservation on CACs, and their
generation from PBMCs, remains to be thoroughly investigated.
The aims of this study were to investigate the outcome that
cryopreservation has on the phenotype and function of: 1) freshly-
isolated PBMCs; and 2) in vitro culture-generated CACs derived
from fresh and cryopreserved PBMCs. In our study, we focused on
the CACs (sometimes referred to elsewhere as early EPCs), which
represent a highly heterogeneous population, thought to mostly
exert their therapeutic effects through paracrine mechanisms.
A summary of the cell populations and experiments is presented
in Figure 1.
Viability of PBMCs but not of Generated CACs is Reduced
after Cryopreservation
Fresh and cryopreserved cells were incubated with 7AAD
exclusion stain and the number of viable cells was quantified via
flow cytometry. Fresh samples of PBMCs and CACs showed about
99.760.1% and 95.360.1% viability, respectively. Following
cryopreservation, PBMCs sustained a non-significant reduction
in viability on day 1 (93.161.5%) with a significant loss observed
on day 28 (viability of 85.064.3%; p = 0.0078; Figure 2 A).
However, the viability of CACs remained relatively stable over
time post-cryopreservation at 88.761.4% on day 1 and
94.363.8% on day 28 (p
= 1; Figure 2 A). Morphology of the
thawed cells was preserved compared to their fresh counterpart
sample as observed under a light microscope at 106 magnification
(Figure 2 B).
Cryopreservation Affects PBMC Phenotype
The phenotype of the fresh and frozen cells was analyzed by
staining the cells for surface markers: CD31, CD34, KDR
(VEGFR2), CD133 and L-selectin and their appropriate isotype
matched IgGs. The IgGs were used qualitatively [24] as there
were no significant differences observed between the different
sample time points (Figure 3 A–C). Surface markers CD34, KDR
and CD133 were selected as they are most commonly used to
describe a potent subset of CACs sometimes referred to as EPCs.
Other surface markers investigated were CD31, an endothelial cell
marker and L-selectin, an important adhesion protein for PBMCs
and CACs. Expression of the endothelial marker CD31 remained
stable at day 1 but by day 28 it was significantly increased
compared to the earlier time points (Table 1). CD34 and
VEGFR2 expressing cells followed a similar trend with a
significant rise of these populations after cryopreservation com-
pared to their fresh counterparts. Furthermore, the number of
CD133 expression cells increased after cryopreservation while the
number of L-selectin positive cells was reduced in the cryopre-
served PBMC samples when compared to the fresh PBMC
Figure 1. Summary of the methods. In brief, PBMCs were isolated and either analyzed (fresh), plated to generate CACs, or cryopreserved for 1 or
28 days after which the cells were thawed and analyzed or plated to generate CACs from cryopreserved PBMCs.
Effects of Cryopreservation on PBMCs and CACs
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samples (Table 1). Double, triple and even quadruple staining of
cells positive for the markers described above was also investigated
to look at certain subpopulations of PBMCs. Their summary is
shown in Table 1.
Cryopreservation Affects CAC Phenotype
The number of CACs generated was not significantly different
between fresh and cryopreserved samples. CAC analysis followed
the same procedures as the PBMCs and investigated the number
of cells expressing the five markers: CD31, CD34, CD133,
VEGFR2 and L-selectin. Overall, EPC identifying markers
(CD34, VEGFR2 and CD133) did not show any significant
differences after cryopreservation compared to the fresh samples
(Table 2). The number of CD31 positive cells was significantly
decreased after 1 day of cryopreservation; however, a significant
decrease was not observed for the 28-day frozen cells. L-selectin
was significantly up-regulated in cells after 28 days of cryopres-
ervation compared to the fresh samples. The double, triple and
quadruple staining of cells for the selected markers described was
also investigated to look at various subpopulations of CACs. Their
summary is shown in Table 2.
Cryopreservation does Affect Lectin Binding and LDL
Uptake of CACs
Lectin binding and LDL uptake are characteristic functions of
EPCs and other circulating cells, such as leukocytes. We decided to
investigate whether these functions are altered in the cells by the
cryopreservation process. There were no significant differences in
the uptake of LDL and binding of lectin when day 1 and day 28
cryopreserved PBMCs were compared to the fresh PBMCs
(Figure 4 A, B). However, a significant increase in LDL uptake
(by 2.4-fold) was observed in day 28 CACs generated after
cryopreservation, compared to fresh CACs (Figure 4 C, p = 0.004).
There was also a significant increase in lectin binding for CACs
Figure 2. Viability of PBMCs, but not of generated CACs, is reduced after cryopreservation. 7AAD
exclusion staining was used to
enumerate the number of viable cells for fresh, early and late cryopreserved PBMCs and CACs. Prior to flow cytometry, the cells were incubated with
7AAD for 5 minutes. The proportion of viable cells is represented as a percentage 6 SE (n = 7) (A). Representative images of fresh and cryopreserved
PBMCs and CACs were taken by light microscopy at 106 magnification; scale bar = 50
mm. (B). *p,0.05 compared to the fresh sample.
Effects of Cryopreservation on PBMCs and CACs
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after cryopreservation with an increase of ,1.1-fold compared to
the fresh samples (Figure 4 D, p = 0.005).
Functional Capacities of PBMCs and CACs after
Adhesion and migration are important functional properties of
most cells. Since changes in some of the proteins involved in these
processes (VEGFR2, L-selectin) were observed after cryopreser-
vation, assays measuring the cells
adhesive and migratory abilities
were conducted. Overall, cryopreserved PBMCs and CACs
demonstrated no difference in adhesive capabilities on fibronectin
coated plates compared to the fresh samples (Figure 5 A, C).
Cryopreserved PBMCs were also unaffected in their ability to
migrate using a VEGF chemokine (Figure 5 B), whereas CACs
after 1 day of cryopreservation exhibited reduced migration
(p = 0.04), compared to fresh CACs (p = 0.001). Migration of day
28 cryopreserved CACs was not significantly affected (p = 0.12;
Figure 5 D).
Cytokine Secretion of CACs after Cryopreservation
The supernatant from CAC cultures was collected and a
cytokine array was performed to evaluate the secretion of select
cytokines by the cells. The secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines
interleukin-1a (IL-1a), IL-1b and tumor necrosis factor (TNF-a)
and anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 was observed to be higher
in frozen cells compared to their fresh counterparts. In most cases,
day 1 cryopreserved cells seemed to have the highest secretion of
these inflammatory cytokines compared to both fresh and day 28
samples (Figure 6 A–D). Secretion of angiopoietin-1, a protein that
plays a role in vascular development, was significantly reduced in
day 28 cells (Figure 6 E). Granulocyte colony-stimulating factor
(GCSF), which stimulates the BM to produce cells, was increased
in day 1 cryopreserved cells; however, this increase was not seen in
the day 28 cells (Figure 6 F). Furthermore, intracellular adhesion
molecule 1 (ICAM-1), important in cell-to-cell adhesion, was
increased in cryopreserved cells, whereas tissue inhibitor of
metalloproteinases 2 (TIMP-2), which plays a role in extracellular
matrix degradation and suppression of EC proliferation [25], was
Figure 3. Isotype matched IgGs for each surface marker. Controls were conducted for background staining of fluorescent conjugates for
markers CD31, VEGFR2, L-selectin, CD133 and CD34 on PBMCs (A) and CACs (B). No significant difference was observed in positively stained cells
during fresh, day 1 and day 28 time points. The average IgG background staining is presented as fold-change ± SE compared to fresh samples (n = 7).
Representative histograms of the various markers (blue) and corresponding IgG (red) analysis from one donor’s fresh, day 1 and day 28 CACs (C).
Effects of Cryopreservation on PBMCs and CACs
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reduced in the cryopreserved cells (Figure 6 G–H). The secretion
of pro-vasculogenic cytokine basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF),
pro-myogenic cytokine insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) and
chemotactic cytokines stromal cell derived factor 1 (SDF-1) and
VEGF were all observed to be unaffected by cryopreservation
(Figure 6 I–L).
Cryopreservation does not Affect in vivo Angiogenic
Potential of CACs
Fresh or cryopreserved-derived human CACs were injected into
the skeletal muscle of immunocompromised mice with hindlimb
ischemia induced by femoral artery ligation. Laser Doppler
perfusion analysis was conducted to measure blood flow over a
2-week post-treatment period, after which the animals were
sacrificed. Animals receiving cryopreserved cell treatments dis-
played restoration in perfusion comparable to those receiving
transplantation of fresh cells. No significant differences were
observed in perfusion between treatments at days 4, 7, 10 and 14
post-op (Figure 7 A). Furthermore, there were no differences in the
number of arterioles (assessed by smooth muscle actin (SMA)
staining) between hindlimbs treated with cryopreserved cells or
fresh cells (Figure 7 B). Staining the tissue with anti-human
mitochondria antibodies yielded no detection of the transplanted
human cells in the hindlimbs at the time of sacrifice, suggesting
that transplanted cells did not persist in the tissue 2 weeks after
Cryopreservation is an appealing method for storing an
individual’s own autologous stem and progenitor cells until needed
for therapy; however, the effects of freezing cells for storage have
not been fully characterized. In particular, there is limited data
regarding cryopreserved PBMC-generated CACs, which have
been a major focus of regenerative research. Our data demon-
strates that cryopreservation does not adversely affect the viability
of PBMCs and CACs but it does cause phenotypic changes in
PBMCs and to a lesser degree in some subpopulations of CACs.
However, the potent CD34
population re-
mained unaffected in the CACs. Also the CACs demonstrated no
changes in the secretion of important regenerative and chemo-
tactic cytokines thought to be involved in the CAC’s regenerative
ability via paracrine mechanisms. Furthermore, the angiogenic
potential of CACs was examined in vivo, and no differences were
seen between the 3 groups in their ability to restore perfusion to
ischemic hindlimbs; demonstrating that cryopreservation did not
affect the therapeutic potency of the cells. Nevertheless, some
differences between the fresh and the cryopreserved CACs were
observed, such as changes in inflammatory and other cytokine
Table 1. PBMC phenotype is affected after cryopreservation.
PBMC Fresh (%) Day 1 (%) Day 28 (%)
67.3862.17 70.4264.12 76.8862.10
10.1260.47 7.6960.62
0.6160.14 1.5560.17 2.1660.15
1.6460.39 3.8860.42
3.3660.57 8.0460.73
3.5060.24 5.1261.10 6.3160.70
29.4760.48 40.1366.13 38.862.42
3.7160.30 15.4265.82 13.3061.64
60.8963.11 60.7661.04 62.5461.73
7.3060.42 22.0264.67 22.0261.0
35.8961.36 48.1462.72
4.7260.82 5.4260.89 4.7261.02
0.6160.22 3.6660.61
27.4461.58 24.9160.61 23.3961.92
2.2460.58 6.9460.57
0.1460.053 0.536.077
0.01560.0082 0.1560.043
2.3360.56 11.6662.99
84.3761.52 74.7962.43
0.7560.33 4.0660.25
3.6660.56 6.4060.79 5.0861.61
0.2760.067 2.6560.97
0.002760.0027 0.07260.013
12.4762.85 27.5766.19
p,0.05 vs. ‘fresh’ time point.
p,0.05 vs. ‘day 1’ time point.
The values represent the percentage of cells within the total cell population (sample of 200,000 cells) that express the given phenotype.
Effects of Cryopreservation on PBMCs and CACs
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secretion and the numbers of cells expressing certain non-
progenitor surface markers (L-selectin and CD31).
The maintenance of PBMC viability following cryopreservation
observed in the present work is in accordance with other studies
that also did not find considerable cell death after cryopreservation
of PBMCs [26,27]; however, it is believed that the cell viability
achieved after cryopreservation is largely dependent on the
expertise/technique of the laboratory that performs the cryopres-
ervation [26,27]. In particular, one report showed cell viability
post-cryopreservation ranging from 1% to more than 90% [27].
The effect of cryopreservation on CAC viability has not been
studied in great detail [28,29], especially when considering
PBMC-derived CACs. One investigation using 7-AAD, examined
the viability of CACs from cryopreserved umbilical cord blood and
found a significant level of apoptosis [29]. In contrast, our results
illustrated no significant decline in CAC viability after 1 day and
28 days time points of cryopreservation. It is possible that this is
attributable to differences between the cells under study or that
after being cultured for 4 days the CAC viability differences are
negated. The importance of cell viability after cryopreservation is
imperative as CACs make up a small fraction of the total PBMCs.
The ability to generate a large number of viable cells would allow
for a better stem cell therapy outcome.
The cells’ phenotype was analyzed by staining for cell surface
markers CD31, L-selectin, CD34, CD133 and VEGFR2 using
flow cytometry. In our investigation, CACs generated from
cryopreserved PBMCs showed no difference in expression of
surface markers CD34, VEGFR2 and CD133; however a
difference in CD31 and L-selectin expression was observed.
CD34, CD133 and VEGFR2 are markers used to characterize
CACs and the potent subpopulation of EPCs, although they are
not exclusive to these populations and can be expressed by other
hematopoietic lineages [30]. As previously mentioned,
cells have been shown to be a potent
subpopulation of cells involved in vascular regeneration [3–6].
The fact that this population and their vasculogenic derivatives
(ex. CD34
cells) are unaffected by the cryopreservation
in CACs, and are even increased in cryopreserved PBMCs,
indicates that perhaps this population is able to better tolerate the
harsh process of freezing without significant losses, compared to
other populations.
CD31 is a marker of endothelial cells and L-selectin is an
adhesion molecule found on CACs and other PBMCs. The
expression of CD31 by day 28 cryopreserved PBMCs was
increased; whereas the frequency of L-selectin
PBMCs decreased,
from about 85% to 70%, after 28 days of cryopreservation. This
result is in accordance with previous studies that have also found
down-regulation of L-selectin in PBMCs following cryopreserva-
tion [31], which may be a cellular response to stress [32].
Regarding progenitor markers CD34, CD133 and VEGFR2, we
Table 2. CAC phenotype is affected after cryopreservation.
CAC Fresh (%) Day 1 (%) Day 28 (%)
72.8162.94 61.9761.09
8.3861.25 12.5160.58
0.7960.23 2.7060.32
1.8060.50 7.3560.96
3.8360.66 8.8360.32
3.0560.51 6.8860.26
31.4561.68 29.2061.20 19.3963.24
3.8160.63 8.4260.89
64.2662.69 58.4561.36 45.7966.69
6.7561.08 16.0461.14
42.5361.89 42.7362.17 38.5163.26
4.5360.82 2.6960.37 2.1860.61
0.9060.19 1.9560.29
31.2961.61 28.0361.06 23.7863.27
3.4460.54 9.3261.16
0.2460.11 0.7160.25 4.3562.43
0.07060.042 0.2360.064 0.4460.22
3.5760.63 10.0761.28 5.8860.99
82.9962.65 87.2661.47 92.0461.98
1.0060.31 2.8860.36
3.9760.67 10.3460.67
2.5461.15 4.9361.02 3.6061.89
0.05060.030 0.1260.022 2.3961.40
14.6763.15 26.2662.19 28.4466.47
p,0.05 vs. ‘fresh’ time point.
p,0.05 vs. ‘day 1’ time point.
The values represent the percentage of cells within the total cell population (sample of 200,000 cells) that express the given phenotype.
Effects of Cryopreservation on PBMCs and CACs
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observed an increased expression following cryopreservation of
PBMCs. Ketheesan et al. showed that the proportion of CD34
cells in frozen cord blood did not change after freezing [33], while
Lanza et al. demonstrated that 90-day cryopreserved PBMCs
derived from patients with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma had an
increase in CD34
cells compared to fresh samples, attributed to a
decrease in mature myeloid cells [34]. Many hypotheses exist to
explain the changes in phenotypes after cryopreservation: 1) more
cells could indeed shift towards expression of particular markers
during the cryopreservation process; 2) due to cell death of other
subpopulations, there is a relative increase of more cells expressing
markers CD34, CD133 and VEGFR2 used to identify EPCs; or 3)
an increase in false positives as perceived by the flow cytometry
analyses. Given that the observed non-specific binding IgG
controls did not differ among time points, it is plausible that the
observed changes are due to one of the first two hypotheses;
however, it is not yet clear whether one or both are predominant
reasons for changes in stored cell phenotypes.
Although studies have shown that L-selectin decreases in
immunomagnetically-purified CD34
CACs immediately after
thawing, the cells do recover their expression of L-selectin after a
short period of culture [35]. This may explain why, in our study,
we observed a decrease in PBMC L-selectin expression, which
were analyzed immediately, while the CACs were generated by a
4-day culture protocol before analysis, and demonstrated no
change in L-selectin on day 1 cryopreserved cells and even an
increased expression by day 28 cryopreserved cells. Surprisingly,
the levels of CD31 were decreased in cryopreserved CACs in
contrast to cryopreserved PBMCs where the expression of CD31
was unchanged or increased.
We also assessed the function of the populations’ capacity for
lectin-binding and LDL uptake, which are further characteristics
used to assess CAC populations [1,2]. As expected, a higher
percentage of cells in the CAC sample showed lectin binding and
DiI-LDL uptake, compared to PBMCs. In PBMCs there was no
significant difference between the number of fresh and cryopre-
served cells staining positive for either one of these factors.
However, for CACs a significant increase was seen for lectin
binding and LDL uptake in 28 day cryopreserved cells. This is in
contrast to an investigation by Mieno et al. that showed that LDL
uptake and lectin-binding of EPCs is unaffected by cryopreserva-
tion [28].
The cells’ function was further assessed by their adhesion and
VEGF-mediated migration capabilities. The adhesion of PBMCs
was unaffected by cryopreservation, which is somewhat contra-
dictory to the observed decrease in L-selectin after cryopreserva-
tion. Binding of L-selectin inside the cell results in the activation of
b1 and b2 integrins which promotes adhesion of leukocytes to
fibronectin [36]. It is possible that while the loss of L-selectin in
PBMCs is statistically significant, it is not, however, physiologically
Figure 4. Cryopreservation affects LDL uptake and lectin binding of CACs. The numbers of positive PBMCs that took up fluorescent LDL (A)
or that bound fluorescent lectin (B) were quantified using flow cytometry. The same procedure was conducted for CACs (C, D). Data is reported as
fold-change from donor-matched fresh samples ± SE (n = 7). *p,0.05 compared to the fresh sample.
Effects of Cryopreservation on PBMCs and CACs
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relevant, as compensatory mechanisms may be in action (e.g. other
selectins may assume similar functions [37]). The migration
potential of PBMCs using VEGF for chemotaxis was also
unaffected by cryopreservation. The fact that there was no change
in VEGF-mediated migration even though there was increased
expression of one of its receptors (VEGFR2) was not further
investigated. One theory could be attributed to the newly
expressed receptor proteins being non-functional, and therefore
being unable to contribute to the cells’ migration.
CAC adhesion and migration capacities were mostly unaffected
by cryopreservation. There is a significant decrease in CAC
migration between fresh and 1-day frozen samples, but no
significant difference between fresh and 28-day frozen samples.
The loss of migratory function in the 1-day samples may be
attributed to shock that the cells underwent during the short
succession between freezing/thawing procedures; whereas the
maintenance of migratory potential in the 28-day cells is in
Figure 5. Cryopreservation does not affect adhesion and migration of PBMCs and CACs. PBMCs were pre-stained with DAPI for
visualization by electron microscope for analysis of their adhesive (A) and migration (B) capabilities. The same procedure was performed for CACs (C,
D). Five pictures were taken per well and the number of DAPI
cells (blue) were counted per FOV and representative pictures of each assay are
shown. Data is reported as fold-change from donor-matched fresh samples ± SE (n = 7), scale bar = 80
mm. *p,0.05 compared to the fresh sample.
Effects of Cryopreservation on PBMCs and CACs
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accordance with other studies showing that migration is not
affected by cryopreservation [28,38].
Secretion of cytokines is an important aspect of the CAC’s
ability to repair tissue after an ischemic injury [10]. Using an array
we looked at a variety of cytokines released by cultured fresh and
cryopreserved CACs. Inflammatory cytokines were increased a
few fold in the cryopreserved cells; and this increase was greatest in
day 1 cryopreserved cells, even compared to day 28 cells. Why the
day 1 cells increase their secretion of inflammatory cytokines
remains unknown. As the cryopreservation preparation proce-
dures are the same, the difference between day 1 and day 28 might
be explained by the short period of time between the freezing/
thawing procedures. While changes in inflammatory cytokine
production in cryopreserved CACs have not been reported,
PBMCs have been previously shown in some studies to have a
different cytokine secretion pattern post-cryopreservation [39,40].
In one study, 12 months frozen PBMCs were found to
spontaneously show an increase of inflammatory cytokines IL-6,
IL-10, IL-13 and IFN-c [39]. In our study, we found that the
secretion of several other cytokines was also changed after
cryopreservation. ICAM-1, an adhesion factor and, in its soluble
form, an indicator of endothelial dysfunction [41], was found to
have an increased secretion in cells after cryopreservation.
However, this might be attributed to the increase in IL-1a, IL-b
and TNF-a which have been found to up-regulate ICAM-1 in ECs
[42]. Similarly, the observed angiopoietin-1 and TIMP-2 decrease
in our cryopreserved cells may also be attributed to the effect of
the increased IL-1b and TNF-a secretion by the cells [43,44].
While differences in the secretion of certain cytokines was
observed in cryopreserved cells, some of the most important pro-
regenerative and chemotactic cytokines such as IGF-1, bFGF,
SDF-1a and VEGF remained unchanged between the fresh and
Figure 6. Cytokine secretion of CACs after cryopreservation. Fresh and cryopreserved PBMCs were cultured for 4 days to generate CACs. The
media was collected and analyzed using a cytokine array (n = 526). Results of some of the cytokines are shown as a fold-change in light intensity 6
SE; (A–L). *p,0.05 compared to the fresh sample, unless otherwise indicated.
Effects of Cryopreservation on PBMCs and CACs
PLOS ONE | 9 October 2012 | Volume 7 | Issue 10 | e48067
cryopreserved CACs. Although some changes between fresh and
cryopreserved cells were found, when their angiogenic potential
was investigated in vivo, no differences in the recovery of perfusion
or arteriole density were observed between the animals treated
with cryopreserved cells vs. fresh cells, underscoring the conser-
vation of therapeutic function after cryopreservation.
Figure 7. Cryopreservation does not affect the
in vivo
therapeutic function of CACs in a hindlimb ischemia model. Five million fresh,
d1 or d28 cryopreserved-derived cells were injected into the skeletal muscle of mice that had undergone femoral artery ligation to induce hindlimb
ischemia. Laser Doppler perfusion analysis was conducted over a period of 2 weeks (A). The tissue was harvested at 2 weeks and stained for SMA. The
number of arterioles (per FOV 6 SE) was determined (B), with representative images shown at 206 magnification (n = 526); scale bar = 50
Effects of Cryopreservation on PBMCs and CACs
PLOS ONE | 10 October 2012 | Volume 7 | Issue 10 | e48067
The extraction and cryopreservation of PBMCs is a well-
established protocol, already in use for treatment of patients
suffering with bone marrow cancers and other blood diseases.
While the amount of serum used during our freezing step is 6%
and other protocols have used storage solutions containing up to
90% serum [45,46], we did not observe a great loss of viable cells.
This is an important finding, considering that a study investigating
cryopreservation of MNCs reported that viability of ,70% is
associated with compromised proliferative responses to antigens
and mitogens, and are not suitable for cytokine production studies,
flow cytometric analyses, or immunomagnetic cell separation
Overall, our data indicate that the function of therapeutic CAC
populations is generally preserved after short- and longer-term
cryopreservation, with the cells retaining their adhesion and
migratory capabilities. Despite the more drastic phenotypic
changes in PBMCs following cryopreservation, these cells can still
generate CACs with no changes in the population of the potent
vasculogenic CD34
cells compared to their
fresh counterparts. Furthermore, the secretion of important
regenerative and chemotactic cytokines is unchanged in the
cryopreserved CACs along with their angiogenic potential in vivo.
However, the cryopreserved CACs do show a significant increase
in secretion of inflammatory factors, which may affect the
expression of additional cytokines such as angiopoietin-1, GCSF,
TIMP-2 and ICAM-1. Our findings also have clinical implication,
as more research is showing that PBMCs and CACs have a
positive impact on neovascularization in ischemic and cardiovas-
cular diseases. One important factor for successful cell therapy is
generating enough therapeutic cells to achieve sufficient repair of
the damaged tissue. Progenitor cells from the peripheral blood are
much easier to obtain than the traditional bone marrow harvest,
which is more painful and requires anesthesia. The PBMCs may
be collected over a given period and stored each time until enough
cells are collected and the patient is primed to receive the cell
therapy, at which time the PBMCs may be cultured to generate
the therapeutic CACs.
In conclusion, the CACs generated from the cryopreserved
PBMCs show no significant difference in viability, in in vitro
functions such as adhesion and migration, or in in vivo angiogenic
potential; however, an increase in LDL uptake and lectin binding
was observed. Also while there are some phenotypic changes, the
therapeutically potent CD34
population re-
mains unchanged. Additionally, the secretion of important
regenerative and chemotactic cytokines involved in tissue repair
through paracrine mechanisms is unaffected in CACs after
cryopreservation. The ability to store these therapeutic cells for
a long period of time without large cell losses and disruption of
function will offer more patients an opportunity to experience
successful cell therapy.
Materials and Methods
A summary of the cell populations, methods and time points are
presented in Figure 1.
Ethics Statement
The study was approved by the Human Research Ethics Board
of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, and informed consent
was obtained from all donors.
Cell Isolation
Total PBMCs were isolated from 100 ml of fresh blood samples
of seven healthy human donors both male and female (20–35 years
of age) by Histopaque 1077 (Sigma-Aldrich, Oakville, Canada)
density-gradient centrifugation as described previously [49]. The
cells within the buffy coat were then either analyzed (baseline
PBMCs), cultured to generate CACs, or cryopreserved.
PBMCs retrieved from the buffy coat were reconstituted in a
1 ml solution of Isocove’s Modified Dulbecco’s Medium (IMDM;
Stem Cell Technologies, Vancouver, Canada) containing 5%
dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO; Sigma-Aldrich) and 6% donor cell-
matched serum and placed into a cryovial (Corning Incorporated,
Corning, USA). The DMSO was mixed with the IMDM prior to
addition of blood serum and cells in order to prevent clump
formation. The cells were cooled to 280uC over 3 hours before
being transferred to liquid nitrogen for storage.
For rapid thawing and to prevent toxicity to cells, cryovial tubes
were taken from the freezer and immediately placed in a 37uC
water bath until ice crystals disappeared, after which the cells were
diluted 56 with IMDM and centrifuged at 1400 rpm and
immediately resuspended in fresh Endothelial Basal Media
(EBM-2; Clonetics, Guelph, Canada).
CAC Culture
CACs were generated by seeding fresh PBMCs, or PBMCs
thawed at days 1 or 28 post-freezing, on fibronectin (Sigma-
Aldrich)-coated plates in EBM supplemented with EGM-2-MV-
SingleQuots (Clonetics) containing 5% fetal bovine serum, human
VEGF, human insulin-like growth factor 1, human epidermal
growth factor and antibiotics for 4 days. After 4 days, the media
was removed and the cells were lifted using gentle pipetting with
PBS and prepared for subsequent assays.
Flow Cytometry Staining
Cells were counted using a Vi-Cell analyzer (Beckman Coulter,
Mississauga, Canada). PBMCs or CACs (3610
) in 200 ml of EBM
were stained for 30 minutes at 4uC with pre-conjugated antibodies
against the following antigens: CD31-FITC (Beckman Coulter),
CD34-PECy7 (BD Biosciences, Mississauga, Canada), KDR-PE
(R&D Systems, Minneapolis, USA), CD133-APC (Miltenyl Biotec,
Auburn, USA) and L-selectin-ECD (Beckman). Samples were also
stained with appropriate IgG isotype-matched controls. Immedi-
ately prior to analysis, the viability stain 7-actinomycin D (7-AAD)
(Invitrogen, Burlington, Canada) was added to samples to a final
concentration of 8.3
mg/ml. Characterization also included
incubating 3610
cells with 2 mg/ml of 1,19-dioctadecyl-
3,3,39,39-tetramethylindocarbocyanine–labeled acetylated low
density lipoprotein (DiI-LDL) (Invitrogen) for one hour at 37uC
after which the cells were pelleted, fixed for 10 minutes with
fixation buffer (BD Biosciences) and further incubated for an hour
at 37uC with 10
mg/ml of fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC)
labelled lectin from Ulex europaeus agglutinin-1 (Sigma-Aldrich).
Cells were analyzed and quantified with a BD FACSaria cell sorter
(BD Biosciences) until the number of events (cells) reached
Functional Assays
Cells were suspended in 50 mg/ml of 49,6-diamidino-2-pheny-
lindole (DAPI; Sigma-Aldrich) in PBS for 30 minutes at 37uC,
after which the cells were pelleted and counted. Migration.
DAPI-stained PBMCs or CACs (2610
) were suspended in 100 ml
Effects of Cryopreservation on PBMCs and CACs
PLOS ONE | 11 October 2012 | Volume 7 | Issue 10 | e48067
of VEGF-free EBM and placed in the top compartment of a 24-
well Boyden chamber (Corning Inc.) with the lower chamber
coated with fibronectin and containing 350
ml of 0.05 mg/ml
VEGF (Cedarlane, Burlington, Canada) in EBM. The cells were
incubated for 24 hours in 5% CO
after which they were fixed
with 4% paraformaldehyde and washed with PBS. Adhesion.
DAPI-stained cells (2610
) were plated in 1 ml of EBM on
fibronectin coated 24-well plates and incubated for 1 hour in 5%
after which they were fixed with 4% paraformaldehyde. The
number of DAPI stained cells for both assays were counted in 5
random fields-of-view for each well at 206 magnification using
Olympus B660 fluorescent microscope (Olympus Canada Inc.,
Markham, Canada). Assays were performed in duplicate.
Cytokine Array
Three million PBMCs were plated on fibronectin-coated 6-well
plates in 2 ml of EBM media. After culturing for 4 days to
generate CACs, the media was collected. Cytokine arrays
(RayBiotech, Norcross, USA) were incubated with 100
media per sample according to manufacturer’s protocol. Following
the cytokine array procedures, the membranes were exposed and
the light produced at each spot (proportional to the amount of
cytokine bound) was quantified using AlphaEaseFC.
Hindlimb ischemia mouse model. Nude BALB/C mice
(7–8 weeks old) underwent ligation of proximal femoral arteries
under 2% isoflurane, as previously described [14]. Subsequently,
the ischemic hindlimb was injected downstream of the ligation site
with 2 equivolumetric injections (50
ml total, suspended in PBS)
containing a total of 5610
CACs that were derived from: i) fresh
PBMCs; ii) day 1 cryopreserved PBMCs; or, iii) day 28
cryopreserved PBMCs, prepared as described above. Injections
were performed with a 27 gauge needle. Prior to injection, cell
viability was confirmed to be .85%.
Laser Doppler
Hindlimb perfusion was measured using laser Doppler analysis
pre-operatively, post-operatively, and at days 4, 7, 10 and 14, as
described previously [14]. Briefly, while mice were anaesthetized
with 2% isoflurane, single point measurements were recorded
(moorLD12; Moor Instruments, Axminster, UK) in both hind-
limbs and used to evaluate perfusion. The data is expressed as a
ratio of ischemic to non-ischemic hindlimb blood flow.
Two weeks post-CAC treatment, the mice were sacrificed and
the ischemic hindlimb tissue was collected, frozen and sectioned.
After fixing tissue sections with acetone for 10 minutes, the sections
were washed for 365 minutes with PBS, blocked for an hour using
10% fetal bovine serum in PBS and stained with anti-SMA
antibody (1:100; abcam, Cambridge, USA). Following 3 washes (5
minutes each) and secondary antibody application (1:600 anti-
rabbit Alexa 488; Invitrogen,) the slides were mounted with DAPI
and analyzed at 206 magnification with an Olympus BX50
microscope using Image Pro Plus. The number of arterioles was
counted by 2 blind observers and expressed as the average number
of SMA
vessels per field of view (FOV). Additionally, to visualize
the injected CACs, hindlimb sections were stained with anti-
human mitochondria antibody (1:100; Chemicon, Temecula,
USA), following the manufacturers instruction.
Statistical Analysis
Results obtained for each phenotype and each cell type were
analyzed for differences between days using a one-way Anova
adjusted for donor. Sub-analyses were performed when a
Bonferonni significant result was obtained using a paired t-test.
Results were Bonferonni adjusted for the number of tests
performed for each of viability, phenotype and function separately,
to achieve an alpha of 0.05; p-values given for sub-analyses are not
corrected. Statistical analyses were performed using R (R
development core team, Vienna, Austria).
The authors would like to thank Branka Vulesevic for her assistance with
animal procedures.
Author Contributions
Conceived and designed the experiments: TS ES DK. Performed the
experiments: TS KM SC JM. Analyzed the data: TS KM RD DK.
Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: TS KM SC JM RD. Wrote
the paper: TS ES DK.
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... All tissue samples were sectioned and randomly allocated to immediate cell culture (fresh tissue), immediate cryopreservation or delayed cryopreservation after 24 hours of refrigeration (4˚C) in cardioplegia solution (lactated ringers, 2% St Thomas solution, 5 mEq NaHCO3 and 10 mEq KCl; Thermo Fisher Scientific). Tissue samples were cryopreserved to -80˚C within 5% dimethyl sulfoxide, 6% fetal bovine serum within Iscove's Modified Dulbecco's Medium [9]. One month later, cryopreserved tissue specimen vials were recovered in a 37˚C water bath prior to processing. ...
Full-text available
The value of preserving high quality bio specimens for fundamental research is significant as linking cellular and molecular changes to clinical and epidemiological data has fueled many recent advances in medicine. Unfortunately, storage of traditional biospecimens is limited to fixed samples or isolated genetic material. Here, we report the effect of cryopreservation of routine myocardial biopsies on explant derived cardiac stem cell (EDC) culture outcomes. We demonstrate that immediate cryopreservation or delayed cryopreservation after suspension within cardioplegia for 12 hours did not alter EDC yields, proliferative capacity, antigenic phenotype or paracrine signature. Cryopreservation had negligible effects on the ability of EDCs to adopt a cardiac lineage, stimulate new vessel growth, attract circulating angiogenic cells and repair injured myocardium. Finally, cryopreservation did not influence the ability of EDCs to undergo genetic reprogramming into inducible pluripotent stem cells. This study establishes a means of storing cardiac samples as a retrievable live cell source for cardiac repair or disease modeling.
... The low temperatures allow the cells to enter a quiescent state in which cellular functions are suspended without affecting their intrinsic characteristics (1). Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) are frequently cryopreserved for use in transplants or immunological studies (2,3). However, the cryopreservation process may affect viability, phenotype, and cellular functionality due to factors such as inadequate temperatures, the freezing protocol used, the expertise of the personnel, and freezing time (4,5). ...
Cryopreserved peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) are widely used in studies of dengue. In this disease, elevated frequency of apoptotic PBMCs has been described, and molecules, such as soluble tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (sTRAIL), are involved. This effect of dengue could affect the efficiency of PBMCs cryopreservation. Here, we evaluate viability (trypan blue dye exclusion and amine-reactive dye staining) and functionality (frequency of interferon [IFN]-γ producing T cells after polyclonal stimulation) of fresh and cryopreserved PBMCs from children with dengue (in acute and convalescence phase), children with other febrile illnesses, and healthy children as controls. Plasma sTRAIL levels were also evaluated. The frequency of non-viable PBMCs detected by both viability assays was positively correlated (r = 0.74, P < 0.0001). Cryopreservation particularly affected the PBMCs of children with dengue, who had a higher frequency of non-viable cells than that of healthy and children with other febrile illnesses (P ≤ 0.02) and PBMCs viability levels were restored in the convalescent phase. In the acute phase, an increased frequency of CD3 + CD8 + amine + cells was found before cryopreservation (P = 0.01). Except for B cells in acute phase, cryopreservation usually did not affect the relative frequency of viable PBMCs subpopulations. Dengue infection reduced the frequency of IFN-γ producing CD3 + cells after stimulation, compared with healthy controls and convalescence (P ≤ 0.003) and plasma sTRAIL correlated with this decreased frequency in dengue ( rho = -0.56, P = 0.01). Natural dengue infection in children can affect the viability and functionality of cryopreserved PBMCs.
... In line with our findings previous studies have already reported that cryopreservation can rather influence activation status than frequency or function of mononuclear cells. In particular, human T-cells, monocytes or circulating angiogenic cells can be thawed without considerable alteration of their phenotype and function [13][14][15]. Cryopreservation is also routinely used for storage of autologous CD34 + cells suggesting that cryopreserved blood cells usually match fine fresh cells [16]. Hereby, even if the cryopreserved cells in our study were not fully equal in phenotype and ROS generation to fresh cells (at least shortly after thawing) they may represent another alternative in terms of availability, storage, transportation and functionality. ...
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Numerous studies have divided blood monocytes according to their expression of the surface markers CD14 and CD16 into following subsets: classical CD14++CD16-, intermediate CD14++CD16+ and nonclassical CD14+CD16++ monocytes. These subsets differ in phenotype and function and are further correlated to cardiovascular disease, inflammation and cancer. However, the CD14/CD16 nature of resident monocytes in human bone marrow remains largely unknown. In the present study, we identified a major population of CD14++CD16+ monocytes by using cryopreserved bone marrow mononuclear cells from healthy donors. These cells express essential monocyte-related antigens and chemokine receptors such as CD11a, CD18, CD44, HLA-DR, Ccr2, Ccr5, Cx3cr1, Cxcr2 and Cxcr4. Notably, the expression of Ccr2 was inducible during culture. Furthermore, sorted CD14++CD16+ bone marrow cells show typical macrophage morphology, phagocytic activity, angiogenic features and generation of intracellular oxygen species. Side-by-side comparison of the chemokine receptor profile with unpaired blood samples also demonstrated that these rather premature medullar monocytes mainly match the phenotype of intermediate and partially of (non)classical monocytes. Together, human monocytes obviously acquire their definitive CD14/CD16 signature in the bloodstream and the medullar monocytes probably transform into CD14++CD16- and CD14+CD16++ subsets which appear enriched in the periphery.
... Cells were seeded on fibronectin-coated plates (20 μg/plate) in EBM-2 (Clonetics) supplemented with EGM-2-MV SingleQuots (Clonetics). After 4 days in culture, an adherent heterogeneous CAC population was generated, which was previously characterized ( Sofrenovic et al., 2012). CACs were lifted from the plates using PBS, and count and viability were assessed using a Vi-Cell counter (Beckman Coulter) via the Trypan blue exclusion method, prior to embedding them in matrices. ...
Islet transplantation is an emerging strategy for treating patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus. Although the proof of concept for cellular replacement therapy in diabetes has been firmly established, vascularity of the transplant site and the long-term survival and function of transplanted islets remains suboptimal. In the present study, human circulating angiogenic cells (CACs) and porcine islet cells embedded in collagen-chitosan hydrogels, with and without laminin, were investigated as potential engineered biomaterials for the treatment of type 1 diabetes. Hydrogels were evaluated in vitro for their physical properties (compression, degradation, porosity and wettability) and cell compatibility. Increasing the chitosan content in the collagen-based hydrogel resulted in increased stiffness (p ≤ 0.04) and time to gelation (p < 0.001), but reduced porosity (from 22-28% to 16-19%). The material design formulations (10:1 vs 20:1 collagen:chitosan ratio) directly affected the cell properties. The viability of both human CACs and porcine islets embedded in the 20:1 collagen-chitosan matrix was higher at 24 h compared to the 10:1 formulation. For islet function, glucose stimulation indices for the 20:1 formulation at 24 h compared favourably with values reported in the literature, more so than the 10:1 formulations. While laminin improved the short-term viability of CACs, its presence did not confer any benefit to islet viability or function. Overall, the design features outlined in this study provided the degree of control required to establish viable tissue with potential for islet transplantation and neovascularization. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Circulating angiogenic cells (CACs) are a heterogeneous cell population of bone marrow (BM) origin. These cells are most commonly derived from the peripheral blood, bone marrow, and cord blood, and are one of the leading candidates for promoting vascularization in tissue engineering therapies. CACs can be isolated by culturing peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) on fibronectin or by flow cytometry to obtain more specific subpopulations. Here we will describe how to generate a population of CACs, and how to characterize the cells and confirm their phenotype. Also, we will provide select methods that can be used to assess the angiogenic and endothelial cell-like properties of the CACs.
This study investigated the interaction of human circulating angiogenic cells (CACs) with a degradable polar hydrophobic ionic polyurethane (D-PHI) which has been previously shown to exhibit anti-inflammatory character and favorable interactions with human endothelial cells (ECs). Given the implication of the CACs in microvessel development it was of intrinsic interest to expand our knowledge of D-PHI biocompatibility with this relevant primary cell involved in angiogenesis. The findings will be compared to a well-established benchmark substrate for CACs, fibronectin-coated tissue culture polystyrene (TCPS). Immunoblotting analysis showed that CACs were a heterogeneous population of cells composed mostly of monocytic cells expressing the CD14 marker. Assessment of the cytokine release profile, using ELISA, showed that D-PHI supported a higher concentration of interleukin-10 (IL-10) when compared to the concentration of tumor necrosis factor alpha, which is indicative of an anti-inflammatory phenotype, and was different from the response with TCPS. It was found that the CACs were attached to D-PHI and remained viable and functional (nitric oxide production) during the seven days of culture. However, there did not appear to be any significant proliferation on D-PHI, contrary to the CAC growth on fibronectin-coated TCPS. It was concluded that D-PHI displayed some of the qualities suitable to enable the retention of CACs onto this substrate, as well as maintaining an anti-inflammatory phenotype, characteristics which have been reported to be important for angiogenesis in vivo.
HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors (statins) have been developed as lipid-lowering drugs and are well established to reduce morbidity and mortality from coronary artery disease. Here we demonstrate that statins potently augment endothelial progenitor cell differentiation in mononuclear cells and CD34-positive hematopoietic stem cells isolated from peripheral blood. Moreover, treatment of mice with statins increased c-kit⁺/Sca-1⁺–positive hematopoietic stem cells in the bone marrow and further elevated the number of differentiated endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs). Statins induce EPC differentiation via the PI 3-kinase/Akt (PI3K/Akt) pathway as demonstrated by the inhibitory effect of pharmacological PI3K blockers or overexpression of a dominant negative Akt construct. Similarly, the potent angiogenic growth factor VEGF requires Akt to augment EPC numbers, suggesting an essential role for Akt in regulating hematopoietic progenitor cell differentiation. Given that statins are at least as potent as VEGF in increasing EPC differentiation, augmentation of circulating EPC might importantly contribute to the well-established beneficial effects of statins in patients with coronary artery disease.
Naive T cells are selectively recruited from the blood into peripheral lymph nodes during lymphocyte recirculation. L-selectin, a lectin-like receptor, mediates the initial attachment of lymphocytes to high endothelial venules (HEV) in lymph nodes. A subsequent step involving the activation of beta 2 integrins has been proposed to facilitate firm adhesion, but the activating signals are poorly understood. We report here that either antibody-mediated cross-linking of L-selectin on human lymphocytes or treatment of the cells with GlyCAM-1, an HEV-derived, secreted ligand for L-selectin, stimulates their binding to ICAM-1 through the beta 2 integrin pathway. Furthermore, GlyCAM-1 causes the rapid expression of a neoepitope on beta 2 integrins associated with a high-avidity state. Naive (CD45RA+), but not memory (CD45R0+) lymphocytes, respond to L-selectin cross-linking or GlyCAM-1 treatment. Thus, the complexing of L-selectin by specific ligands may provide key signals to naive lymphocytes, contributing to their selective recruitment into peripheral lymphoid organs.
Angiopoietin (Ang)-1 is an important regulator of endothelial cell (EC) survival and stabilization. Ang-1 exerts its biological effects by binding to the EC-specific tyrosine kinase receptor Tie-2, and initiates intracellular signaling in ECs. However, regulatory mechanisms for endothelial Ang-1 expression have not been completely elucidated. In this study, we investigated the effects of angiogenic cytokines and growth factors on Ang-1 expression in human umbilical vein ECs (HUVECs). Northern blot analysis was performed after HUVECs were exposed to interleukin-1β (IL-1β), tumor necrosis factor-α, platelet-derived growth factor-BB, insulin-like growth factor-1, or vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Both IL-1β and tumor necrosis factor-α caused marked down-regulation of Ang-1 mRNA levels at 4 h with a further decrease observed at 24 h. Using signaling inhibitors, we identified the 38 pathway as the pathway that mediates IL-1β down-regulation of Ang-1. Furthermore, treatment of cells with IL-1β indirectly (via down-regulation of Ang-1) led to a decrease in Tie-2 autophosphorylation levels in HUVECs. We previously demonstrated that IL-1β regulates VEGF expression in tumor cells. This observation was confirmed in ECs in the present study. Because pericytes play a role in regulating EC function, we also determined whether IL-1β would also down-regulate Ang-1 in human vascular smooth muscle cells. Similar to our findings in HUVECs, we found that IL-1β decreased Ang-1 expression in human vascular smooth muscle cells. Direct effects of IL-1β on angiogenesis were investigated by use of an in vivo Gelfoam angiogenesis assay in which IL-1β produced a significant increase in vessel counts ( = 0.0189). These results suggest that IL-1β indirectly regulates angiogenesis by modulating the expression of Ang-1. IL-1β may trigger a proangiogenic response by decreasing Ang-1 levels in ECs and pericytes and up-regulating VEGF in ECs and tumor cells.
Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection results in impaired immune function that can be measured by changes in immunophenotypically defined lymphocyte subsets and other in vitro functional assays. These in vitro assays may also serve as early indicators of efficacy when new therapeutic strategies for HIV-1 infection are being evaluated. However, the use of in vitro assays of immune function in multicenter clinical trials has been hindered by their need to be performed on fresh specimens. We assessed the feasibility of using cryopreserved peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) for lymphocyte immunophenotyping and for lymphocyte proliferation at nine laboratories. In HIV-1-infected patients with moderate CD41 lymphocyte loss, the procedures of density gradient isolation, cryopreservation, and thawing of PBMC resulted in signif- icant loss of CD191 B cells but no measurable loss of total T cells or CD41 or CD81 T cells. No significant changes were seen in CD282 CD951 lymphocytes after cell isolation and cryopreservation. However, small decreases in HLA-DR1 CD381 lymphocytes and of CD45RA1 CD62L1 were observed within both the CD41 and CD81 subsets. Fewer than 10% of those specimens that showed positive PBMC proliferative responses to mitogens or microbial antigens lost their responsiveness after cryopreservation. These results support the feasibility of cryopreserving PBMC for immunophenotyping and functional testing in multicenter AIDS clinical trials. However, small changes in selected lymphocyte subsets that may occur after PBMC isolation and cryopreservation will need to be assessed and considered in the design of each clinical trial.
In order to understand human inflammatory diseases and to develop and assess new therapeutic strategies targeting leukocyte recruitment to tissue, it is necessary to study human lymphocyte interactions with endothelium. It is often not practical to carry out assays on fresh human samples and therefore cells may be cryopreserved and batched for later study. Furthermore, many forms of adoptive cell therapy use cryopreserved cells that are required to migrate to tissue after infusion in vivo. The consequences of cryopreservation on the adhesion and migration of leukocytes is not known leading us to study the effects of cryopreservation on lymphocyte phenotype, migration, and adhesion. Cryopreservation and subsequent thawing did not alter the proportion of retrieved T cell subsets. Overall levels of expression of β1 or β2 integrins were unaffected but marked changes were observed in other relevant receptors. Expression of CD69, a transmembrane protein that plays a critical role in lymphocyte egress from tissues and the chemokine receptor CXCR4, increased on thawed populations and levels of CD62L and CXCR3 were reduced on thawed cells but restored if cells were allowed to recover after thawing. These changes were associated with modulation of the ability of lymphocytes to migrate across cytokine-stimulated monolayers of endothelium toward recombinant CXCL11 and CXCL12. Thus cryopreservation and thawing of lymphocytes induces changes in their adhesive phenotype and modulates their ability to migrate across endothelial monolayers. These findings have implications for in vitro experimentation and for cell therapy in which cryopreserved cells are expected to migrate when reinfused into patients.
Biomaterials that have the ability to augment angiogenesis are highly sought-after for applications in regenerative medicine, particularly for revascularization of ischemic and infarcted tissue. We evaluated the culture of human circulating angiogenic cells (CAC) on collagen type I-based matrices, and compared this to traditional selective-adhesion cultures on fibronectin. Culture on a collagen matrix supported the proliferation of CD133(+) and CD34(+)CD133(+) CACs. When subjected to serum starvation, the matrix conferred a resistance to cell death for CD34(+) and CD133(+) progenitors and increased phosphorylation of Akt. After 4days of culture, phenotypically enriched populations of endothelial cells (CD31(+)CD144(+)) and progenitor cells (CD34(+)CD133(+)) emerged. Culture on matrix upregulated the phosphorylation and activation of ERK1/2 pathway members, and matrix-cultured cells also had an enhanced functional capacity for adhesion and invasion. These functional improvements were abrogated when cultured in the presence of ERK inhibitors. The formation of vessel-like structures in an angiogenesis assay was augmented with matrix-cultured cells, which were also more likely to physically associate with such structures compared to CACs taken from culture on fibronectin. In vivo, treatment with matrix-cultured cells increased the size and density of arterioles, and was superior at restoring perfusion in a mouse model of hindlimb ischemia, compared to fibronectin-cultured cell treatment. This work suggests that a collagen-based matrix, as a novel substrate for CAC culture, possesses the ability to enrich endothelial and angiogenic populations and lead to clinically relevant functional enhancements.