A new cryomacroscope device (Type III) for visualization of physical events in cryopreservation with applications to vitrification and synthetic ice modulators.
The objective of the current study is to develop a new cryomacroscope prototype for the study of vitrification in large-size specimens. The unique contribution in the current study is in developing a cryomacroscope setup as an add-on device to a commercial controlled-rate cooler and in demonstration of physical events in cryoprotective cocktails containing synthetic ice modulators (SIM)-compounds which hinder ice crystal growth. Cryopreservation by vitrification is a highly complex application, where the likelihood of crystallization, fracture formation, degradation of the biomaterial quality, and other physical events are dependent not only upon the instantaneous cryogenic conditions, but more significantly upon the evolution of conditions along the cryogenic protocol. Nevertheless, cryopreservation success is most frequently assessed by evaluating the cryopreserved product at its end states-either at the cryogenic storage temperature or room temperature. The cryomacroscope is the only available device for visualization of large-size specimens along the thermal protocol, in an effort to correlate the quality of the cryopreserved product with physical events. Compared with earlier cryomacroscope prototypes, the new Cryomacroscope-III evaluated here benefits from a higher resolution color camera, improved illumination, digital recording capabilities, and high repeatability in tested thermal conditions via a commercial controlled-rate cooler. A specialized software package was developed in the current study, having two modes of operation: (a) experimentation mode to control the operation of the camera, record camera frames sequentially, log thermal data from sensors, and save case-specific information; and (b) post-processing mode to generate a compact file integrating images, elapsed time, and thermal data for each experiment. The benefits of the Cryomacroscope-III are demonstrated using various tested mixtures of SIMs with the cryoprotective cocktail DP6, which were found effective in preventing ice growth, even at significantly subcritical cooling rates with reference to the pure DP6.