Cryomicroscopic Investigations of Freezing Processes in Cell Suspensions

Tathagata Acharya, Ram V. Devireddy*
Bioengineering Laboratory, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA, USA.

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© 2010 Acharya and Devireddy

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: ( This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Bioengineering Laboratory, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA, USA; Tel: 1-225-578-5891; Fax: 1-225-578-5924; E-mail:


This study evaluates the freezing response of three different cell types, Pacific oyster embryos (~50 µm in diameter), Jurkat cells and HeLa cells (~12 to 15 µm’s in diameter), using cryomicroscopy. Freezing experiments were performed on oyster embryos at cooling rates of either 5 or 10 °C/min, while Jurkats were cooled at either 1 or 10 °C/min and HeLa cells were cooled at either 1, 15 or 20 °C/min, respectively. The experiments with oyster embryos were primarily designed to investigate the phenomena of intracellular ice formation (IIF) while the experiments for Jurkat and HeLa cells were designed to investigate both cellular dehydration and IIF during freezing. IIF was characterized by the abrupt black flashing during the cooling steps while the cellular dehydration experiments were characterized by the volumetric (projected area) shrinkage of the cells during the cooling steps. Mathematical models were fit to the cellular dehydration data to obtain the Jurkat and HeLa cell membrane permeability (Lpg) at the reference temperature (273.15 K), the apparent activation energy of the cellular dehydration process (ELp) or the temperature dependence of Lpg. The temperature dependence of IIF in the oyster embryos, the Jurkat cells and the HeLa cells were also determined.

Keywords: Intracellular ice formation, water transport or cellular dehydration, pacific oyster embryos, HeLa cells, jurkat cells.