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Reprod Biomed Online. 2003 Dec;7(6):623-33.

Recent developments in human oocyte, embryo and blastocyst vitrification: where are we now?

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University of Wuerzburg, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Josef-Schneider-Strasse 4, Wuerzburg 97080, Germany.


The target of any cryopreservation procedure should be to ensure high survival rates of living cells after thawing. Two important parameters determine the success of any cryopreservation protocol: the manner in which cells regain equilibrium in response to cooling, and the speed of freezing (cooling rate). Slow-rate freezing protocols result in the formation of ice crystals during cooling and warming. Vitrification, in which high cooling rates in combination with a high concentration of cryoprotectant are used, does not produce any ice crystals during cooling and warming. However, there is a practical limit to the attainable cooling speed, and also a biological limit to the concentration of cryoprotectant tolerated by the cells during vitrification. Although post-warming survival depends on the species, the developmental stage and the quality of the embryos being vitrified, it seems clear that vitrification methods are increasingly successful and might be a better method than slow cooling procedures in the field of cryobiology. Many of the potential problems and benefits underlying vitrification as a method of choice for embryo cryopreservation in clinical embryology will be discussed in this review.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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