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Cryopreservation and Cells
By definition, cryopreservation refers to the utilization of extremely low temperatures to preserve the structural and functional integrity of cells and tissues as they transition from the aqueous phase to the solid phase. Once frozen, cryopreserved cells and tissues can remain stable, particularly when kept either at -80 °C or in liquid nitrogen at a temperature of -196 °C.

One of the key advantages associated with the cryopreservation of cells, particularly stem cells, is that it prevents the need to maintain cells in culture for extended periods of time, leading to epigenetic changes and genetic drifts. Furthermore, cryopreserving cells can ensure the maintenance of desired cell phenotypes while also extending their shelf life.

In terms of its therapeutic advantages, cryopreserving cells allows multiple treatments to be applied to the same batch of cells, thereby providing a flexible treatment schedule for patients.

How Temperature Affects Stem Cells
Adult stem cells are the longest living proliferative cells that exist in multicellular organisms. Regardless of whether these cells reside within an organism or in culture, stem cells are associated with an intrinsically increased risk of accumulating metabolic and genetic damage that can ultimately prevent their ability to multiply. Notably, several environmental factors, including exposure to toxins or harsh temperatures, can accumulate such damage.

Each subtype of stem cell is associated with its own distinct properties that determine its resistance to certain changes in temperature. For example, adipose-derived stem cells (ADSCs) retain their proliferation and differentiation capacities when cryopreserved for extended periods of time. However, it is crucial that an appropriate protection medium like dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) is incorporated into the frozen ADSC vial to prevent irreversible damage to the ADSC membrane.

Aside from cryopreservation, maintaining stem cells within a specified temperature range is essential for their growth in culture. Like many other types of cells that are grown in culture, stem cells must be maintained in an incubator at 37 °C and with a carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration of 5%.

In a recent study, researchers investigated the viability of human MSCs after being incubated at temperatures of 38 °C, 48 °C, and 58 °C for 45 seconds, 80 seconds, and 150 seconds. Herein, the researchers found that irreversible damage to cell integrity occurs to MSCs when exposed to 58 °C for only 45 seconds; however, cell metabolism was not significantly altered when the cells were exposed to 48 °C for 150 seconds.

Read more: Keeping Stem Cells Safe with Temperature Sensors