Currently, continuous culture/passage and cryopreservation are two major, well-established methods to provide cultivated mammalian cells for experiments in laboratories. Due to the lack of flexibility, however, both laboratory-oriented methods are unable to meet the need for rapidly growing cell-based applications, which require cell supply in a variety of occasions outside of laboratories. Herein, we report spontaneous packaging and hypothermic storage of mammalian cells under refrigerated (4 °C) and ambient conditions (25 °C) using a cell-membrane-mimetic methacryloyloxyethyl phosphorylcholine (MPC) polymer hydrogel incorporated within a glass microchip. Its capability for hypothermic storage of cells was comparatively evaluated over 16 days. The results reveal that the cytocompatible MPC polymer hydrogel, in combination with the microchip structure, enabled hypothermic storage of cells with quite high viability, high intracellular esterase activity, maintained cell membrane integrity, and small morphological change for more than 1 week at 4 °C and at least 4 days at 25 °C. Furthermore, the stored cells could be released from the hydrogel and exhibited the ability to adhere to a surface and achieve confluence under standard cell culture conditions. Both hypothermic storage conditions are ordinary flexible conditions which can be easily established in places outside of laboratories. Therefore, cell packaging and storage using the hydrogel incorporated within the microchip would be a promising miniature and portable solution for flexible supply and delivery of small amounts of cells from bench to bedside.
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