At least 6 major areas of study in cryobiology can be identified:
Cryobiology history can be traced back to antiquity. As early as in 2500 BC low temperatures were used in Egypt in medicine. The use of cold was recommended by Hippocrates to stop bleeding and swelling. With the emergence of modern science, Robert Boyle studied the effects of low temperatures on animals.
In 1949 sperm was cryopreserved for the first time by a team of scientists led by Christopher Polge (1926-2006). This led to a much wider use of cryopreservation today, with many organs, tissues and cells routinely stored in low temperatures. Large organs such as hearts are usually stored and transported, for short times only, at cool but not freezing temperatures for transplantation. Cell suspensions (like blood and semen) and thin tissue sections can sometimes be stored almost indefinitely at liquid nitrogen temperature (cryopreservation). Human sperm, eggs and embryos are routinely stored in fertility research and treatments. In the early 2000s a baby was born from a cryopreserved egg fertilized by a cryopreserved sperm.
Cryosurgery (= intended and controlled tissue destruction by ice formation) was carried out by James Arnott in 1845 in an operation on a patient with cancer. Although not very widespread, cryosurgery has its benefits. Hypothermia, e.g. during heart surgery on a "cold" heart (generated by cold perfusion without any ice formation) allows for much longer operations and improves recovery rates for patients.
A rule of thumb in hypothermic storage is that every 10°C reduction in temperature is accompanied by a 50% decrease in oxygen consumption. Although hibernating animals have adapted mechanisms to avoid metabolic imbalances associated with hypothermia, hypothermic organs and tissues being maintained for transplantation require special preservation solutions to counter acidosis, depressed sodium pump activity and increased intracellular calcium. Special organ preservation solutions such as Viaspan (University of Wisconsin solution), HTK, and Celsior have been designed for this purpose. These solutions also contain ingredients to minimize damage by free radicals, prevent edema, compensate for ATP loss, etc.
Cryopreservation of cells is guided by the "Two-Factor Hypothesis" of American cryobiologist Peter Mazur, which states that excessively rapid cooling kills cells by intracellular ice formation and excessively slow cooling kills cells by either electrolyte toxicity or mechanical crushing. During slow cooling ice forms extracellularly, causing water to osmotically leave cells, thereby dehydrating them. Intracellular ice can be much more damaging than extracellular ice.
For red blood cells the optimum cooling rate is very rapid (nearly 100°C per second), whereas for stem cells the optimum cooling rate is very slow (1°C per minute). Cryoprotectants, such as DMSO (dimethyl sulfoxide) and glycerol, are used to protect cells from freezing. A variety of cell types are protected by 10% DMSO. Cryobiologists attempt to optimize cryoprotectant concentration (minimizing both ice formation and toxicity) as well as cooling rate. Cells may be cooled at an optimum cooling rate to a temperature between −30°C and −40°C before being plunged into liquid nitrogen.
Slow cooling methods rely on the fact that cells contain few nucleating agents, but contain naturally-occurring vitrifying substances that can prevent ice formation in cells that have been moderately dehydrated. Cryobiologists are increasingly using mixtures of cryoprotectants for full vitrification (zero ice formation) in preservation of cells, tissues and organs. Vitrification methods pose a challenge in the requirement to search for cryoprotectant mixtures that can minimize toxicity.
The Society for Low Temperature Biology was founded in 1964 and became a Registered Charity in 2003 (Charity Commission for England & Wales No. 1099747) with the purpose of promoting research into the effects of low temperatures on all types of organisms and their constituent cells, tissues and organs. As of 2006 the Society for Low Temperature Biology had approximately 130 (mostly British and European) members and holds at least one Annual General Meeting. The program usually includes both a symposium on a topical subject and a session of free communications on any aspect of low temperature biology. Recent symposia have included long-term stability, preservation of aquatic organisms, cryopreservation of embryos and gametes, preservation of plants, low temperature microscopy, vitrification (glass formation of aqueous systems during cooling), freeze drying and tissue banking. Members are informed through the Society Newsletter, which is presently published 3 times a year. The 2005-2006 Chair of the Society for Low Temperature Biology has been Tiantian Zhang .
A list of additional scientific societies (mostly using "applied" cryobiology) can be found here
CRYO LETTERS is an independent UK based rapid communication journal which publishes papers on the effects produced by low temperatures on a wide variety of biophysical and biological processes, or studies involving low temperature techniques in the investigation of biological and ecological topics.
CELL PRESERVATION TECHNOLOGY is a peer-reviewed quarterly scientific journal published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. dedicated to the diverse spectrum of preservation technologies including cryopreservation, dry-state (anhydrobiosis), glassy-state and hypothermic maintenance.
Gene Expression and Enzyme Activities of the Sodium Pump During Sea Urchin Development: Implications for Indices of Physiological State.
Oct 01, 2000; ADAM G. MARSH PATRICK K.K. LEONG DONAL T. MANAHAN Abstract. The sodium pump consumes a large portion of the metabolic, energy...
FLUID EQUILIBRIUM IN PREHISTORIC ORGANISMS SHEDS LIGHT ON A TURNING POINT IN EVOLUTION EMERGENCE OF ENAC, SODIUM PUMP COINCIDES WITH FIRST APPEARANCE OF MULTI-CELLED CREATURES.
Sep 22, 2011; BETHESDA, Md. -- The following information was released by the American Physiological Society: Maintaining fluid balance in the...