While studies on the freezing of cells in suspension have been carried out extensively, corresponding studies with cells in the attached state and in tissue or tissue-equivalents are less developed. As attachment is a hallmark of the tissue state it is important to understand its impact on biophysics and viability to better apply freezing towards tissue preservation. The current study reports on observed biophysical response changes observed during freezing human dermal fibroblasts in suspension, attached cell, and fibrin tissue-equivalent models. Specifically, intracellular ice formation is shown to increase and dehydration is inferred to increase from suspension to attached systems. Biophysical model parameters fit to these experimental observations reflect the higher kinetics in the attached state. Post-thaw viability values from fast cooling rates were higher for suspension systems, and correlated well with the amount of IIF observed. On the other hand, viability values from slow cooling rates were higher for attached systems, although the degree of dehydration was predicted to be comparable to suspension cells. This disconnect between biophysics and viability predictions at slow rates clearly requires further investigation as it runs counter to our current understanding of dehydration injury in cells. This may suggest a possible protective effect of the attachment state on cell systems.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by a McKnight University Professorship awarded to John C. Bischof.