Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) can differentiate into multiple different tissue lineages and have favourable immunogenic potential making them an attractive prospect for regenerative medicine. As an essential part of the manufacturing process, preservation of these cells whilst maintaining potential is of critical importance. An uncontrolled area of storage remains the rate of change of temperature during freezing and thawing. Controlled-rate freezers attempted to rectify this; however, the change of phase from liquid to solid introduces two extreme phenomena; a rapid rise and a rapid fall in temperature in addition to the intended cooling rate (normally -1 °C/min) as a part of the supercooling event in cryopreservation. Nucleation events are well known to initiate the freezing transition although their active use in the form of ice nucleation devices (IND) are in their infancy in cryopreservation. This study sought to better understand the effects of ice nucleation and its active instigation with the use of an IND in both a standard cryotube with MSCs in suspension and a high-throughput adhered MSC 96-well plate set-up. A potential threshold nucleation temperature for best recovery of dental pulp MSCs may occur around -10 °C and for larger volume cell storage, IND and fast thaw creates the most stable process. For adhered cells, an IND with a slow thaw enables greatest metabolic activity post-thaw. This demonstrates a necessity for a medical grade IND to be used in future regenerative medicine manufacturing with the parameters discussed in this study to create stable products for clinical cellular therapies.
Keywords: cryopreservation; ice seeding; mesenchymal stem cells.