Viability of deformed cells

Hiroshi Takamatsu, Boris Rubinsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)


Most of the researchers in the field of cryobiology believe that the mechanism of damage during freezing with low cooling rates is chemical and related to the hypertonicity of the extracellular solution. However, there is some evidence to indicate that cells may be destroyed during freezing also by compression between ice crystals. We have developed an experimental procedure to study the effect of cell compression on viability. Using human prostate primary adenoma cancer cells we show that cell viability decreases steeply when cells are compressed to 30% of their original diameter. If uniform expansion of cell membrane is assumed, this corresponds to a 50% increase in the cell membrane surface area. A simple mathematical model shows that the temperature at which the compression effect may cause cell damage is related to the spacing between ice crystals. When the ice crystals are spaced at distances comparable to the cell diameter the model combined with our experimental data predicts compression damage at about - 1.8°C. This is consistent with experimental observation on frozen cell destruction in the presence of antifreeze proteins.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-251
Number of pages9
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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