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Cryobiology. 2008 Jun;56(3):223-32. doi: 10.1016/j.cryobiol.2008.03.005. Epub 2008 Mar 30.

Vitrification by ultra-fast cooling at a low concentration of cryoprotectants in a quartz micro-capillary: a study using murine embryonic stem cells.

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Center for Engineering in Medicine and Department of Surgical Service, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and Shriners Hospital for Children, 51 Blossom Street, Boston, MA 02114, USA.


Conventional cryopreservation protocols for slow-freezing or vitrification involve cell injury due to ice formation/cell dehydration or toxicity of high cryoprotectant (CPA) concentrations, respectively. In this study, we developed a novel cryopreservation technique to achieve ultra-fast cooling rates using a quartz micro-capillary (QMC). The QMC enabled vitrification of murine embryonic stem (ES) cells using an intracellular cryoprotectant concentration in the range used for slowing freezing (1-2M). The cryoprotectants used included 2M 1,2-propanediol (PROH, cell membrane permeable) and 0.5M extracellular trehalose (cell membrane impermeable). More than 70% of the murine ES cells post-vitrification attached with respect to non-frozen control cells, and the proliferation rates of the two groups were similar. Preservation of undifferentiated properties of the pluripotent murine ES cells post-vitrification cryopreservation was verified using three different types of assays: the expression of transcription factor Oct-4, the presentation of the membrane surface glycoprotein SSEA-1, and the elevated expression of the intracellular enzyme alkaline phosphatase. These results indicate that vitrification at a low concentration (2M) of intracellular cryoprotectants is a viable and effective approach for the cryopreservation of murine embryonic stem cells.

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