In Part I of this study we determined an optimal cooling rate for cryopreservation of collagen-based tissue equivalents (TEs) that preserves both the postthaw cell viability and mechanical properties, but results in tissue contraction and an overall loss of opacity. The empirically determined optimal cooling rate (5 degrees C/min) was obtained in a freezing medium consisting solely of phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) at physiological concentration (1x). In the present study we report the effect of freezing on TEs in the presence of PBS and two cryoprotective agents (CPAs) (glycerol and dimethyl sulfoxide [Me(2)SO]), at two different concentrations (0.5 and 1.0 M), to two different end temperatures (-80 and -160 degrees C), at a cooling rate of 5 degrees C/min. The controlled rate freezing experiments, postthaw cell viability, and mechanical property measurements were performed as described in Part I of this study. In addition to studying the effect of CPAs on the postthaw properties of TEs, we also investigated (1). the effect of freezing TEs attached to the substrate (as opposed to detached and floating in medium) to determine differences when freezing TEs subject to static mechanical stress via a mechanical constraint to contraction; (2). the effect of freezing glutaraldehyde-fixed TEs to determine differences in freezing-mediated damage to the microstructure; and (3). the effect of freezing more mature TEs that were incubated for 4 weeks in growth factor-supplemented medium as opposed to 2 weeks in basal medium. All TEs frozen at 5 degrees C/min to -80 degrees C in the presence of 0.5 M glycerol or Me(2)SO in PBS were found to be optimally cryopreserved in terms of maintaining opacity and structure as well as cell viability and mechanical properties as compared with unfrozen TEs. The postthaw mechanical properties were adversely affected by freezing to the lower end temperature of -160 degrees C in the presence of CPAs, with the samples frozen in the 1.0 M concentration of CPAs exhibiting a total loss of structural integrity on thawing. Furthermore, TEs frozen attached to the substrate showed decreased opacity and significant contraction as compared with TEs frozen detached from the substrate, as did cross-linked samples frozen without CPA.
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