Hagedorn, M., Hsu, E.W., Pilatus, U., Wildt, D.E., Rall, W.R., and Blackband, S.J. (1996) Magnetic resonance microscopy and spectroscopy reveal kinetics of cryoprotectant permeation in a multicompartmental biological system. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 93(15):7454-7459.
Successful cryopreservation of most multicompartmental biological systems has not been achieved. One prerequisite for success is quantitative information on cryoprotectant permeation into and amongst the compartments. This report describes direct measurements of cryoprotectant permeation into a multicompartmental system using chemical shift selective magnetic resonance (MR) microscopy and MR spectroscopy. We used the developing zebrafish embryo as a model for studying these complex systems because these embryos are composed of two membrane-limited compartments: (i) a large yolk (surrounded by the yolk syncytial layer) and (ii) differentiating blastoderm cells (each surrounded by a plasma membrane). MR images of the spatial distribution of three cryoprotectants (dimethyl sulfoxide, propylene glycol, and methanol) demonstrated that methanol permeated the entire embryo within 15 min. In contrast, the other cryoprotectants exhibited little or no permeation over 2.5 h. MR spectroscopy and microinjections of cryoprotectants into the yolk inferred that the yolk syncytial layer plays a critical role in limiting the permeation of some cryoprotectants throughout the embryo. This study demonstrates the power of MR technology combined with micromanipulation for elucidating key physiological factors in cryobiology.