Open Access Open Badges Research

Cryopreservation of human vascular umbilical cord cells under good manufacturing practice conditions for future cell banks

Bianca Polchow1, Kati Kebbel2, Gerno Schmiedeknecht2, Anne Reichardt1, Wolfgang Henrich3, Roland Hetzer1 and Cora Lueders14*

Author Affiliations

1 German Heart Institute Berlin, Department of Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery, Laboratory for Tissue Engineering, Augustenburger Platz 1, 13353, Berlin, Germany

2 Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology IZI, Department of Cell Engineering/GMP, Perlickstr. 1, 04103, Leipzig, Germany

3 Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Department of Obstetrics, Augustenburger Platz 1, 13353, Berlin, Germany

4 Laboratory for Tissue Engineering German Heart Institute Berlin, Augustenburger Platz 1, Berlin, D-13353, Germany

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Journal of Translational Medicine 2012, 10:98  doi:10.1186/1479-5876-10-98

Published: 16 May 2012



In vitro fabricated tissue engineered vascular constructs could provide an alternative to conventional substitutes. A crucial factor for tissue engineering of vascular constructs is an appropriate cell source. Vascular cells from the human umbilical cord can be directly isolated and cryopreserved until needed. Currently no cell bank for human vascular cells is available. Therefore, the establishment of a future human vascular cell bank conforming to good manufacturing practice (GMP) conditions is desirable for therapeutic applications such as tissue engineered cardiovascular constructs.

Materials and methods

A fundamental step was the adaption of conventional research and development starting materials to GMP compliant starting materials. Human umbilical cord artery derived cells (HUCAC) and human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) were isolated, cultivated, cryopreserved (short- and long-term) directly after primary culture and recultivated subsequently. Cell viability, expression of cellular markers and proliferation potential of fresh and cryopreserved cells were studied using trypan blue staining, flow cytometry analysis, immunofluorescence staining and proliferation assays. Statistical analyses were performed using Student’s t-test.


Sufficient numbers of isolated cells with acceptable viabilities and homogenous expression of cellular markers confirmed that the isolation procedure was successful using GMP compliant starting materials. The influence of cryopreservation was marginal, because cryopreserved cells mostly maintain phenotypic and functional characteristics similar to those of fresh cells. Phenotypic studies revealed that fresh cultivated and cryopreserved HUCAC were positive for alpha smooth muscle actin, CD90, CD105, CD73, CD29, CD44, CD166 and negative for smoothelin. HUVEC expressed CD31, CD146, CD105 and CD144 but not alpha smooth muscle actin. Functional analysis demonstrated acceptable viability and sufficient proliferation properties of cryopreserved HUCAC and HUVEC.


Adaptation of cell isolation, cultivation and cryopreservation to GMP compliant starting materials was successful. Cryopreservation did not influence cell properties with lasting impact, confirming that the application of vascular cells from the human umbilical cord is feasible for cell banking. A specific cellular marker expression profile was established for HUCAC and HUVEC using flow cytometry analysis, applicable as a GMP compliant quality control. Use of these cells for the future fabrication of advanced therapy medicinal products GMP conditions are required by the regulatory authority.

Vascular human umbilical cord cells; Good manufacturing practice (GMP); Cryopreservation; Cell banking