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Stress protein response in human oesophageal epithelium may be influenced by the ex vivo culture technique
  1. Lecturer in Gastroenterology,
  2. Oldchurch Hospital, Havering NHS Trust,
  3. and St Bartholomew’s and the Royal London
  4. School of Medicine and Dentistry,
  5. Digestive Disease Research Centre,
  6. 2 Turner Street,
  7. Whitechapel, London E1 2AD, UK

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Editor,—In their recent article Hopwoodet al (Gut 1997;41:156–63) conclude that only freshly acquired specimens cultured for less than six hours are suitable for studying stress responses ex vivo. This statement arises from the observation that cells from unheated oesophageal biopsy samples cultured for 22 hours (in unsupplemented HAMS-F10 media in an incubator containing room air with 5% CO2 at 37°C) exhibited a “stressed” state. The maintenance ex vivo of gastrointestinal biopsy samples has posed formidable problems in the past; however, successful organ culture of oesophageal biopsy specimens for up to 48 hours has been reported by Browning and Trier using Trowell’s technique,1 ,2 and in some cases oesophageal tissue has been cultured for up to seven months.3 For successful organ culture the conditions are critical, particularly the addition of calf serum and insulin to the media, and incubation in a gassed mixture of 95% O2 and 5% CO2.1 Under these conditions, ultrastructural integrity, proliferative activity and protein synthesis are maintained. In Hopwood et al’s study, standard tissue culture rather than organ culture conditions were used and this may account for the finding that prolonged culture mimicked thermal stress. Although the tissue may appear intact by light microscopic examination, the integrity of the cultures can be readily …

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