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Cryobiology. 2000 Aug;41(1):1-9.

A comprehensive evaluation of the effects and mechanisms of antifreeze proteins during low-temperature preservation.

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  • 1College of Life Science, Zhejiang University, Wensan Road, Hangzhou 310012, China.


During the past 10 years, it has become clear that the effects of antifreeze proteins (AFPs) on cell viability and on thermodynamic properties during low-temperature preservation are complex, even controversial. In this paper, these studies are reviewed systematically and some conclusions are drawn. It is shown that AFPs can display both protective and cytotoxic actions and both nucleation of ice and inhibition of ice crystal growth, depending on several factors; these include the specific storage protocol, the dose and type of AFP, the composition and concentration of cryoprotectant, and the features of the biological material. A novel model, incorporating some recent findings concerning these proteins, is proposed to explain this dual effect of AFPs during cryopreservation. AFP-ice complexes have some affinity interactions with cell membranes and with many other molecules present in cryopreservation solutions. When the intensity of these interactions reaches a certain level, the AFP-ice complexes may be induced to aggregate, thereby inducing ice nucleation and loss of the ability to inhibit recrystallization.

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