Effects of freezing-induced cell-fluid-matrix interactions on the cells and extracellular matrix of engineered tissues

Ka Yaw Teo, Tenok O. DeHoyos, J. Craig Dutton, Frederick Grinnell, Bumsoo Han

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The two most significant challenges for successful cryopreservation of engineered tissues (ETs) are preserving tissue functionality and controlling highly tissue-type dependent preservation outcomes. In order to address these challenges, freezing-induced cell-fluid-matrix interactions should be understood, which determine the post-thaw cell viability and extracellular matrix (ECM) microstructure. However, the current understanding of this tissue-level biophysical interaction is still limited. In this study, freezing-induced cell-fluid-matrix interactions and their impact on the cells and ECM microstructure of ETs were investigated using dermal equivalents as a model ET. The dermal equivalents were constructed by seeding human dermal fibroblasts in type I collagen matrices with varying cell seeding density and collagen concentration. While these dermal equivalents underwent an identical freeze/thaw condition, their spatiotemporal deformation during freezing, post-thaw ECM microstructure, and cellular level cryoresponse were characterized. The results showed that the extent and characteristics of freezing-induced deformation were significantly different among the experimental groups, and the ETs with denser ECM microstructure experienced a larger deformation. The magnitude of the deformation was well correlated to the post-thaw ECM structure, suggesting that the freezing-induced deformation is a good indicator of post-thaw ECM structure. A significant difference in the extent of cellular injury was also noted among the experimental groups, and it depended on the extent of freezing-induced deformation of the ETs and the initial cytoskeleton organization. These results suggest that the cells have been subjected to mechanical insult due to the freezing-induced deformation as well as thermal insult. These findings provide insight on tissue-type dependent cryopreservation outcomes, and can help to design and modify cryopreservation protocols for new types of tissues from a pre-developed cryopreservation protocol.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5380-5390
Number of pages11
Issue number23
StatePublished - Aug 2011


  • Cell morphology
  • Cell viability
  • Cryopreservation
  • Dermal equivalent
  • ECM
  • Fibroblast

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Bioengineering
  • Biophysics
  • Biomaterials


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