In blood banks, platelets are stored at 20–24°C, which limits the maximum time they can be stored. Platelets are chilling sensitive, and they activate when stored at temperatures below 20°C. Cryopreservation could serve as an alternative method for long term storage of platelet concentrates. Recovery rates using dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) as cryoprotective agent, however, are low, and removal of DMSO is required before transfusion. In this study, we have explored the use of trehalose for cryopreservation of human platelets while using different cooling rates. Recovery of membrane intact cells and the percentage of nonactivated platelets were used as a measure for survival. In all cases, survival was optimal at intermediate cooling rates of 20°C min−1. Cryopreservation using DMSO resulted in high percentages of activated platelets; namely 54% of the recovered 94%. When using trehalose, 98% of the platelets had intact membranes after freezing and thawing, whereas 76% were not activated. Using Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, subzero membrane phase behavior of platelets has been studied in the presence of trehalose and DMSO. Furthermore, membrane hydraulic permeability parameters were derived from these data to predict the cell volume response during cooling. Both trehalose and DMSO decrease the activation energy for subzero water transport across cellular membranes. Platelets display a distinct lyotropic membrane phase transition during freezing, irrespective of the presence of cryoprotective agents. We suggest that concomitant uptake of trehalose during freezing could explain the increased survival of platelets cryopreserved with trehalose. © 2012 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Biotechnol. Prog., 2012
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