A Collection of Primary Tissue Cultures of Tumors from Vacuum Packed and Cooled Surgical Specimens: A Feasibility Study

Laura Annaratone, Caterina Marchiò, Rosalia Russo, Luigi Ciardo, Sandra Milena Rondon-Lagos, Margherita Goia, Maria Stella Scalzo, Stefania Bolla, Isabella Castellano, Ludovica Verdun di Cantogno, Gianni Bussolati, Anna Sapino

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Primary cultures represent an invaluable tool to set up functional experimental conditions; however, creation of tissue cultures from solid tumors is troublesome and often unproductive. Several features can affect the success rate of primary cultures, including technical issues from pre-analytical procedures employed in surgical theaters and pathology laboratories. We have recently introduced a new method of collection, transfer, and preservation of surgical specimens that requires immediate vacuum sealing of excised specimens at surgical theaters, followed by time-controlled transferring at 4°C to the pathology laboratory. Here we investigate the feasibility and performance of short-term primary cell cultures derived from vacuum packed and cooled (VPAC) preserved tissues. Tissue fragments were sampled from 52 surgical specimens of tumors larger than 2 cm for which surgical and VPAC times (the latter corresponding to cold ischemia time) were recorded. Cell viability was determined by trypan blue dye-exclusion assay and hematoxylin and eosin and immunohistochemical stainings were performed to appreciate morphological and immunophenotypical features of cultured cells. Cell viability showed a range of 84-100% in 44 out of 52 (85%) VPAC preserved tissues. Length of both surgical and VPAC times affected cell viability: the critical surgical time was set around 1 hour and 30 minutes, while cells preserved a good viability when kept for about 24 hours of vacuum at 4°C. Cells were maintained in culture for at least three passages. Immunocytochemistry confirmed the phenotype of distinct populations, that is, expression of cytokeratins in epithelioid cells and of vimentin in spindle cells. Our results suggest that VPAC preserved tissues may represent a reliable source for creation of primary cell cultures and that a careful monitoring of surgical and cold ischemia times fosters a good performance of primary tissue cultures.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere75193
JournalPLoS One
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 30 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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