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Optimized reagents for immunopotency assays on mesenchymal stromal cells for clinical use.

Immunologic Research 2023 April 30
Multipotent mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) offer new therapeutic opportunities based on their ability to modulate an imbalanced immune system. Immunomodulatory potency is typically demonstrated in vitro by measuring the presence of surrogate markers (i.e., indoleamine-2,3-dioxygenase, IDO; tumor necrosis factor receptor type 1, TNFR1) and/or functional assays in co-cultures (i.e., inhibition of lymphoproliferation, polarization of macrophages). However, the biological variability of reagents used in the latter type of assays leads to unreliable and difficult to reproduce data therefore making cross-comparison between batches difficult, both at the intra- and inter-laboratory levels. Herein, we describe a set of experiments aiming at the definition and validation of reliable biological reagents as a first step towards standardization of a potency assay. This approach is based on the co-culture of Wharton's jelly (WJ)-derived MSC and cryopreserved pooled peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Altogether, we successfully defined a robust and reproducible immunopotency assay based on previously described methods incorporating substantial improvements such as cryopreservation of multiple vials of pooled peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from 5 individual donors that enable a number of tests with same reagents, also reducing waste of PBMC from individual donors and therefore contributing to a more efficient and ethical method to use substances of human origin (SoHO). The new methodology was successfully validated using 11 batches of clinical grade MSC,WJ. Methods described here contribute to minimize PBMC donor variability while reducing costs, streamlining assay setup and convenience and laying the foundations for harmonization of biological reagents usage in standardized immunopotency assays for MSC. HIGHLIGHTS: • The use of pools of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) in potency assays contributes to robust and reproducible results, which is key in the assessment of mesenchymal stroma cells (MSC) potency for batch release. • Cryopreservation of PBMCs does not impact negatively on their activation and proliferation abilities. • Cryopreserved pools of PBMC constitutes convenient off-the-shelf reagents for potency assays. • Cryopreservation of pooled PBMCs from multiple donors is a way to reduce waste of donated PBMC and its associated costs, as well as reducing the impact of individual donor variability of substances of human origin (SoHO).

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