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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2023

Chemically Induced Extracellular Ice Nucleation Reduces Intracellular Ice Formation Enabling 2D and 3D Cellular Cryopreservation

Murray, Kathryn A.; Gao, Yanan; Griffiths, Christopher; Kinney, Nina L. H.; Guo, Qiongyu; Gibson, Matthew I.; Whale, Thomas F.


3D cell assemblies such as spheroids reproduce the in vivo state more accurately than traditional 2D cell monolayers and are emerging as tools to reduce or replace animal testing. Current cryopreservation methods are not optimized for complex cell models, hence they are not easily banked and not as widely used as 2D models. Here we use soluble ice nucleating polysaccharides to nucleate extracellular ice and dramatically improve spheroid cryopreservation outcomes. This protects the cells beyond using DMSO alone, and with the major advantage that the nucleators function extracellularly and hence do not need to permeate the 3D cell models. Critical comparison of suspension, 2D and 3D cryopreservation outcomes demonstrated that warm-temperature ice nucleation reduces the formation of (fatal) intracellular ice, and in the case of 2/3D models this reduces propagation of ice between adjacent cells. This demonstrates that extracellular chemical nucleators could revolutionize the banking and deployment of advanced cell models.


Cryopreservation; 3D cell assemblies; ice nucleation; polysaccharides; chemical controlof ice formation

Published in

2023, Volume: 3, number: 5, pages: 1314-1320