Pollen derived macromolecules serve as a new class of ice-nucleating cryoprotectants

Kathryn A. Murray, Nina L. H. Kinney, Christopher A. Griffiths, Muhammad Hasan, Matthew I. Gibson, Thomas F. Whale

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Cryopreservation of biological material is vital for existing and emerging biomedical and biotechnological research and related applications, but there remain significant challenges. Cryopreservation of cells in sub-milliliter volumes is difficult because they tend to deeply supercool, favoring lethal intracellular ice formation. Some tree pollens are known to produce polysaccharides capable of nucleating ice at warm sub-zero temperatures. Here we demonstrated that aqueous extractions from European hornbeam pollen (pollen washing water, PWW) increased ice nucleation temperatures in 96-well plates from ≈ − 13 °C to ≈ − 7 °C. Application of PWW to the cryopreservation of immortalized T-cells in 96-well plates resulted in an increase of post-thaw metabolic activity from 63.9% (95% CI [58.5 to 69.2%]) to 97.4% (95% CI [86.5 to 108.2%]) of unfrozen control. When applied to cryopreservation of immortalized lung carcinoma monolayers, PWW dramatically increased post-thaw metabolic activity, from 1.6% (95% CI [− 6.6 to 9.79%]) to 55.0% (95% CI [41.6 to 68.4%]). In contrast to other ice nucleating agents, PWW is soluble, sterile and has low cytotoxicity meaning it can be readily incorporated into existing cryopreservation procedures. As such, it can be regarded as a unique class of cryoprotectant which acts by inducing ice nucleation at warm temperatures.
Original languageEnglish
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jul 2022


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