Ultra-Rapid Warming Yields High Survival of Mouse Oocytes Cooled to −196°C in Dilutions of a Standard Vitrification Solution
by Shinsuke Seki, Peter Mazur
Intracellular ice is generally lethal. One way to avoid it is to vitrify cells; that is, to convert cell water to a glass rather than to ice. The belief has been that this requires both the cooling rate and the concentration of glass-inducing solutes be very high. But high solute concentrations can themselves be damaging. However, the findings we report here on the vitrification of mouse oocytes are not in accord with the first belief that cooling needs to be extremely rapid. The important requirement is that the warming rate be extremely high. We subjected mouse oocytes in the vitrification solution EAFS 10/10 to vitrification procedures using a broad range of cooling and warming rates. Morphological survivals exceeded 80% when they were warmed at the highest rate (117,000°C/min) even when the prior cooling rate was as low as 880°C/min. Functional survival was >81% and 54% with the highest warming rate after cooling at 69,000 and 880°C/min, respectively. Our findings are also contrary to the second belief. We show that a high percentage of mouse oocytes survive vitrification in media that contain only half the usual concentration of solutes, provided they are warmed extremely rapidly; that is, >100,000°C/min. Again, the cooling rate is of less consequence.
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