ZFIN ID: ZDB-PUB-040908-22
High ice nucleation temperature of zebrafish embryos: slow-freezing is not an option
Hagedorn, M., Peterson, A., Mazur, P., and Kleinhans, F.W.
Although fish embryos have been used in a number of slow-freezing cryopreservation experiments, they have never been successfully cryopreserved. In part this is because little is known about whether ice forms within the embryo during the slow-freezing dehydration process. Therefore, we examined the temperature of intraembryonic ice formation (T(IIF)) and the temperature of extraembryonic ice formation (T(EIF)), using a cryomicroscope. We used both unmodified zebrafish embryos and those with water channels (aquaporin-3 or AQP3) inserted into their membranes to increase permeability to water and cryoprotectants, examined at 100% epiboly to the 6-somite stage. In these experiments we examined: (1) the spontaneous freezing of (external) solutions; (2) the spontaneous freezing of solutions containing embryos; (3) the effect of preloading the embryos with cryoprotectants on T(IIF); (4) whether preloading the embryos with cryoprotectant helps in survival after nucleating events in the solution; and (5) the damaging effects of extracellular nucleation events versus solution toxicity on the embryos. The solutes alone (embryo medium-EM, sucrose culture medium, 1M propylene glycol in EM, and 1M propylene glycol in a sucrose culture medium) froze at -14.9+/-1.1, -17.0+/-0.3, -17.8+/-1.0, and -17.7+/-1.4, respectively. There was no difference amongst these means (P>0.05), thus adding cryoprotectant did not significantly lower the nucleation point. Adding embryos (preloaded with cryoprotectant or not) did not change the basic freezing characteristics of these solutes. In all these experiments, (T(EIF)) equaled (T(IIF)), and there was no difference in the freezing point of the solutions with or without the embryos (P>0.05). Additionally, there was no difference in the freezing characteristics of embryos with and without aquaporins (P>0.05). The formation of intraembryonic ice was lethal to the zebrafish embryos in all cases. But this lethal outcome was not related to solution injury effects, because 88-98% of embryos survived when exposed to a higher solute concentration with no ice present. Taken together, these data suggest that slow-freezing is not a suitable option for zebrafish embryos. The mechanism of this high temperature nucleation event in zebrafish embryos is still unknown.
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