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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2004 Jan;70(1):268-72.

Cell size and water permeability as determining factors for cell viability after freezing at different cooling rates.

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Laboratoire de Génie des Procédés Alimentaires et Biotechnologiques, ENSBANA, 21000 Dijon, France.


This work studied the viabilities of five types of cells (two yeast cells, Saccharomyces cerevisiae CBS 1171 and Candida utilis; two bacterial strains, Escherichia coli and Lactobacillus plantarum; and one human leukemia K562 cell) as a function of cooling rate during freezing. The range of investigated cooling rates extended from 5 to 30,000 degrees C/min. Cell viability was classified into three ranges: (i) high viability for low cooling rates (5 to 180 degrees C/min), which allow cell water outflow to occur completely and do not allow any intracellular crystallization; (ii) low viability for rapid cooling rates (180 to 5,000 degrees C/min), which allow the heat flow to prevail over water outflow (in this case, cell water crystallization would occur as water was flowing out of the cell); (iii) high viability for very high cooling rates (>5,000 degrees C/min), which allow the heat flow to be very rapid and induce intracellular crystallization and/or vitrification before any water outflow from the cell. Finally, an assumption relating cell death to the cell water crystallization as water is flowing out of the cell is made. In addition, this general cell behavior is different for each type of cell and seems to be moderated by the cell size, the water permeability properties, and the presence of a cell wall.

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