A theoretical model of intracellular devitrification.

Devitrification of the intracellular solution can cause significant damage during warming of cells cryopreserved by freezing or vitrification. Whereas previous theoretical investigations of devitrification have not considered the effect of cell dehydration on intracellular ice formation, a new model which couples membrane-limited water transport equations, classical nucleation theory, and diffusion-limited crystal growth theory is presented. The model was used to explore the role of cell dehydration in devitrification of human keratinocytes frozen in the presence of glycerol. Numerical simulations demonstrated that water transport during cooling affects subsequent intracellular ice formation during warming, correctly predicting observations that critical warming rate increases with increasing cooling rate. However, for cells with a membrane transport activation energy less than approximately 50 kJ/mol, devitrification was also affected by cell dehydration during warming, leading to a reversal of the relationship between cooling rate and critical warming rate. Thus, for low warming rates (less than 10°C/min for keratinocytes), the size and total volume fraction of intracellular ice crystals forming during warming decreased with decreasing warming rate, and the critical warming rate decreased with increasing cooling rate. The effects of water transport on the kinetics of intracellular nucleation and crystal growth were elucidated by comparison of simulations of cell warming with simulations of devitrification in H2O–NaCl–glycerol droplets of constant size and composition. These studies showed that the rate of intracellular nucleation was less sensitive to cell dehydration than was the crystal growth rate. The theoretical methods presented may be of use for the design and optimization of freeze–thaw protocols.

Main Author: Karlsson, Jens O. M.
Language: English
Published: 2001
Online Access: http://ezproxy.villanova.edu/login?url=https://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:177591