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Bilirubin, a Physiological Antioxidant, Can Improve Cryopreservation of Human Hepatocytes

Galbiati, G*; Muraca, M*; Mitry, RR; Hughes, RD; Lehec, SC; Puppi, J; Sagias, FG; Caruso, M*; Mieli-Vergani, G; Dhawan, A

Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology & Nutrition: June 2010 - Volume 50 - Issue 6 - p 691–693
doi: 10.1097/MPG.0b013e3181cd26e5
Short Communication

The availability of cryopreserved hepatocytes is required for a more widespread use of hepatocyte transplantation, but human hepatocytes are easily damaged during freezing-thawing. Here, preincubation with unconjugated bilirubin, a physiological antioxidant, resulted in increased viability and function of hepatocytes (as determined by trypan blue exclusion, mitochondrial succinate dehydrogenases activity, urea synthesis, and cytochrome P450 1A/2) compared with cells incubated without the pigment. These findings suggest that unconjugated bilirubin may be used as cryoprotectant in clinical hepatocyte transplantation.

*Laboratory of Medicine, Ospedale Bambino Gesù, Rome, Italy

King's College London School of Medicine at King's College Hospital, Institute of Liver Studies, London, UK.

Received 29 April, 2009

Accepted 18 November, 2009

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Prof Maurizio Muraca, MD, PhD, IRCCS Ospedale Pediatrico Bambino Gesù, Piazza Sant'Onofrio 4, 00165 Rome, Italy (e-mail:

The study was supported by the “Consorzio per la Ricerca sulle Cellule Staminali,” Milan, Italy, and King's College Hospital Charitable Trust.

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.