Vitrification

Vitrification

Vitrification was first investigated and described in the 19th century1. Luyet, the founder of cryobiology, first recognized the potential of achieving an ice-free, structurally arrested state for cryopreservation2,3. Subsequently, it was recognized that vitrification would be a better technique for the preservation of living cells and tissues than would solutions that crystallize and hence damage cells during cooling and warming.

Vitrification can be defined as a physical process by which a highly concentrated solution of cryoprotectant solidifies into a glassy vitrified state from the liquid phase by an extreme elevation in the viscosity while cooling at a low temperature. The solid which is called glass retains the normal molecular and ionic distribution of liquid state and can be considered to be an extremely viscous supercooled liquid4.

The process avoids intracellular and extracellular ice formation5. It thus avoids the possible damage which can be caused by intracellular ice formation and the osmotic effects related to extracellular ice formation. Equally important, it also completely avoids ice crystal formation in cryopreserved cells during the thawing process.