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J Immunol Methods. 1993 Jan 4;157(1-2):135-42.

A new portable device for automatic controlled-gradient cryopreservation of blood mononuclear cells.

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Centre for Medical Parasitology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.


Protection of the functional integrity of mononuclear cells stored in liquid N2 requires careful control of the freezing procedure. Consequently, optimal quality of cryopreserved cells is usually assured by freezing according to a specified time-temperature gradient generated by computer-controlled freezing devices. While such equipment offers large capacity and secures maximum survival and functional integrity of the lymphocytes upon thawing, it is quite costly and strictly stationary. We have previously developed and tested an alternative, manual device for controlled-gradient lymphocyte freezing, which has proved suitable for field conditions. We report here the development and testing of a similar micro-controller regulated device, allowing unattended and automatic controlled-gradient cell freezing. The equipment exploits the temperature gradient present between the liquid N2 surface and the neck in an ordinary liquid N2 refrigerator. The lymphocyte samples are placed in a small elevator, which is moved through the N2 gas phase by a stepper motor. Time and temperature are measured at regular intervals, and the position of the samples adjusted to ensure that the actual measurements closely match encoded ideal values. Results of assays of the functional integrity and phenotypic composition of human mononuclear cells frozen by the new system were comparable to those obtained when using cells frozen by a commercially available, stationary cell-freezing equipment, or fresh autologous cell samples tested in parallel. Furthermore, there was a good correlation between functional and phenotypic data obtained using frozen and autologous fresh samples of mononuclear cells. The equipment described is low weight and has low N2 consumption, and is thus suitable for the collection and cryopreservation of lymphocytes under field conditions. Furthermore, the technique provides an inexpensive alternative for researchers with a limited requirement for the simultaneous freezing of large quantities of cells.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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