The disaccharide trehalose is increasingly being used as a very efficient stabilizer of cells, membranes and macromolecules during cryo- and lyoconservation. Although extracellular trehalose can reduce cryo- and lyodamage to mammalian cells, the sugar is required on both sides of the plasma membrane for maximum protection efficiency. In the present study, mouse myeloma cells were loaded with the disaccharide by means of reversible electropermeabilization in isotonic trehalose-substituted medium, which contained 290 mM trehalose as the major solute. By using the membrane-impermeable fluorescent dye propidium iodide as the reporter molecule, optimum electropulsing conditions were found, at which most permeabilized cells survived and recovered (i.e., resealed) their original membrane integrity within a few minutes after electric treatment. Microscopic examination during the resealing phase revealed that electropulsed cells shrank gradually to about 60% of their original volume. The kinetics of the dye uptake and the volumetric response of cells to electropulsing were analyzed using a theoretical model that relates the observed cell volume changes to the solute transport across the transiently permeabilized cell membrane. From the best fit of the model to the experimental data, the intracellular trehalose concentration in electropulsed cells was estimated to be about 100 mM. This loading efficiency compares favorably to other methods currently used for intracellular trehalose delivery. The results presented here point toward application of the electropermeabilization technique for loading cells with membrane-impermeable bioprotectants, with far-reaching implications for cryo- and lyopreservation of rare and valuable mammalian cells and tissues.
The Journal of Membrane Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Sep 1, 2002
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