Isothermal vitrification methodology development for non-cryogenic storage of archival human sera

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Biorepositories worldwide collect human serum samples and store them for future research. Currently, hundreds of biorepositories across the world store human serum samples in refrigerators, freezers, or liquid nitrogen without following any specific cryopreservation protocol. This method of storage is both expensive and potentially detrimental to the biospecimens. To decrease both cost of storage and the freeze/thaw stresses, we explored the feasibility of storing archival human serum samples at non-cryogenic temperatures using isothermal vitrification. When biospecimens are vitrified, biochemical reactions can be stopped, the specimen ceases to degrade, and macromolecules can be stabilized without requiring cryogenic storage. In this study, 0.2, 0.4, or 0.8M trehalose; 0, 0.005 or 0.01M dextran; and 0 or 10% (v/v) glycerol was added to human serum samples. The samples were either dried diffusively as sessile droplets or desiccated under vacuum after they are adsorbed onto glass microfiber filters. The glass transition temperatures (Tg) of the desiccated samples were measured by temperature-ramp Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy. Sera samples vitrified at 4±2°C when 0.8M trehalose and 0.01M dextran were added and the samples were vacuum dried for two hours. Western immunoblotting showed that vitrified serum proteins were minimally degraded when stored for up to one month at 4°C. About 80% of all proteins were recovered after storage at 4°C on glass microfiber filters, and recovery did not decrease with storage time. These results demonstrated the feasibility of long-term storage of vitrified serum at hypothermic (and non-cryogenic) temperatures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)176-185
Number of pages10
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank Rachel Isaksson Vogel from the Cancer Center Biostatistics Core, at University of Minnesota for statistical analysis, the University of Minnesota Tissue Procurement Facility for their help collecting the serum samples. This research was funded by a seed grant from the Institute for Engineering in Medicine (to AA and AS) at University of Minnesota, an Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program grant (to RL) from University of Minnesota , an NSF grant ( CBET-0644784 ) (to AA) and an NIH-NCI grant ( 1R21CA157298-01A1 ) to AA and AS.


  • Desiccation
  • Glass transition temperature
  • Isothermal vitrification
  • Non-cryogenic storage
  • Serum
  • Stabilization
  • Trehalose


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