Combinations of Osmolytes, Including Monosaccharides, Disaccharides, and Sugar Alcohols Act in Concert During Cryopreservation to Improve Mesenchymal Stromal Cell Survival

Kathryn Pollock, Guanglin Yu, Ralph Moller-Trane, Marissa Koran, Peter I. Dosa, David H. McKenna, Allison Hubel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


There is demand for non-dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) cryoprotective agents that maintain cell viability without causing poor postthaw function or systemic toxicity. The focus of this investigation involves expanding our understanding of multicomponent osmolyte solutions and their ability to preserve cell viability during freezing. Controlled cooling rate freezing, Raman microscopy, and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) were utilized to evaluate the differences in recovery and ice crystal formation behavior for solutions containing multiple cryoprotectants, including sugars, sugar alcohols, and small molecule additives. Postthaw recovery of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) in solutions containing multiple osmolytes have been shown to be comparable or better than that of MSCs frozen in 10% DMSO at 1°C/min when the solution composition is optimized. Maximum postthaw recovery was observed in these multiple osmolyte solutions with incubation times of up to 2 h before freezing. Raman images demonstrate large ice crystal formation in cryopreserved cells incubated for shorter periods of time (∼30 min), suggesting that longer permeation times are needed for these solutions. Recovery was dependent upon the concentration of each component in solution, and was not strongly correlated with osmolarity. It is noteworthy that the postthaw recovery varied significantly with the composition of solutions containing the same three components and this variation exhibited an inverted U-shape behavior, indicating that there may be a "sweet spot" for different combinations of osmolytes. Raman images of freezing behavior in different solution compositions were consistent with the observed postthaw recovery. Phase change behavior (solidification patterns and glass-forming tendency) did not differ for solutions with similar osmolarity, but differences in postthaw recovery suggest that biological, not physical, methods of protection are at play. Lastly, molecular substitution of glucose (a monosaccharide) for sucrose (a disaccharide) resulted in a significant drop in recovery. Taken together, the information from these studies increases our understanding of non-DMSO multicomponent cryoprotective solutions and the manner by which they enhance postthaw recovery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)999-1008
Number of pages10
JournalTissue Engineering - Part C: Methods
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank Sriharsha Mushnoori, Joe Budenske, and Elizabeth Moy for their assistance in performing experiments. This work was funded by grant R21 EB016247-01A1. Parts of this work were carried out in the Characterization Facility, University of Minnesota, which receives partial support from NSF through the MRSEC program.


  • cryopreservation
  • mesenchymal stromal cell
  • osmolyte


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