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Human embryonic stem (hES) cells have enormous potential for clinical applications. However, one major challenge is to achieve high cell recovery rate after cryopreservation. Understanding how the conventional cryopreservation protocol fails to protect the cells is a prerequisite for developing efficient and successful cryopreservation methods for hES cell lines and banks. We investigated how the stimuli from cryopreservation result in apoptosis, which causes the low cell recovery rate after cryopreservation. The level of reactive oxygen species (ROS) is significantly increased, F-actin content and distribution is altered, and caspase-8 and caspase-9 are activated after cryopreservation. p53 is also activated and translocated into nucleus. During cryopreservation apoptosis is induced by activation of both caspase-8 through the extrinsic pathway and caspase-9 through the intrinsic pathway. However, exactly how the extrinsic pathway is activated is still unclear and deserves further investigation.

Original publication




Journal article


Biotechnol Prog

Publication Date





827 - 837


Actins, Analysis of Variance, Apoptosis, Caspase 8, Caspase 9, Cell Culture Techniques, Cell Survival, Cryopreservation, Cryoprotective Agents, Dimethyl Sulfoxide, Embryonic Stem Cells, Humans, Immunohistochemistry, Reactive Oxygen Species, Signal Transduction, Tumor Suppressor Protein p53