Cryopreservation using freeze-thaw methods is one way in which cells can be safely stored at low temperatures for indefinite periods of time. Unfortunately the process itself can damage the cells such that the number of viable cells is reduced after thawing. This problem is particularly important when dealing with non-proliferating cells, such as primary hepatocytes. In the current study directional solidification is used to help improve the successful cryopreservation of hepatocytes. Specifically, by analyzing the crystallization of cryoprotective solutions, cell suspensions, and cultured hepatocytes in the presence of DMSO, we determine how changes in the morphology and rate of crystal growth influence cell survival. The results demonstrate that the presence of extracellular matrix and alterations in DMSO concentration are two ways to affect cell viability. Next by modeling the directional solidification results as a Stefan Problem, the image analysis data is then used to quantify the thermal conductivities of each system.

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