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Cryobiology. 2013 Apr;66(2):176-85. doi: 10.1016/j.cryobiol.2013.01.003. Epub 2013 Jan 24.

Isothermal vitrification methodology development for non-cryogenic storage of archival human sera.

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Biostabilization Laboratory, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Minnesota, 111 Church St. SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA.


Biorepositories worldwide collect human serum samples and store them for future research. Currently, hundreds of biorepositories across the world store human serum samples in refrigerators, freezers, or liquid nitrogen without following any specific cryopreservation protocol. This method of storage is both expensive and potentially detrimental to the biospecimens. To decrease both cost of storage and the freeze/thaw stresses, we explored the feasibility of storing archival human serum samples at non-cryogenic temperatures using isothermal vitrification. When biospecimens are vitrified, biochemical reactions can be stopped, the specimen ceases to degrade, and macromolecules can be stabilized without requiring cryogenic storage. In this study, 0.2, 0.4, or 0.8M trehalose; 0, 0.005 or 0.01M dextran; and 0 or 10% (v/v) glycerol was added to human serum samples. The samples were either dried diffusively as sessile droplets or desiccated under vacuum after they are adsorbed onto glass microfiber filters. The glass transition temperatures (Tg) of the desiccated samples were measured by temperature-ramp Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy. Sera samples vitrified at 4±2°C when 0.8M trehalose and 0.01M dextran were added and the samples were vacuum dried for two hours. Western immunoblotting showed that vitrified serum proteins were minimally degraded when stored for up to one month at 4°C. About 80% of all proteins were recovered after storage at 4°C on glass microfiber filters, and recovery did not decrease with storage time. These results demonstrated the feasibility of long-term storage of vitrified serum at hypothermic (and non-cryogenic) temperatures.

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